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SUMMER AT AWAKOPU
He was a "love 'em and leave 'em" man Janey Bowden could never cope with man like Theo Carrington--a man who had captured hearts and cast them aside at his pleasure. And Janey was the kind of selfless, untouched young girl Theo had never known. "You're a fool to love me," he told her savagely. "Go away before I forget the last bit of chivalry I have left!" Janey had to obey. But would she spend the rest of her life longing for a man who needed no one?
the arrogant. Not. that you could blame her parents for finding her an enigma. Janey had given up on her looks just as she 'had given up trying to fit into her mother's ideal of what an eighteen-year-old girl should be. and there was nothing Shai. loved more than sprats. It was after that incident that she had taken to tying her hair back from her face in a ponytail which. she thought glumly. Janey hadn't needed the remark to know that the style didn't suit her. When Penny was home the telephone . Penelope. had just spent two very successful years at university in Auckland. She acquitted them of any desire to hurt. Shai was an exquisitely graceful creature while she was gawky and clumsy. her older sister by three years. as her mother commented. her eyes. curling lashes. all long arms and legs and untidy red-brown hair—but it had hurt to hear herself described as looking like the Scarecrow from The Wizard of Oz. at least had the virtue of neatness. She was going to be a lawyer. It had been early morning so their voices had come clear and unmuffled across the water. So it was a fairly common sight to see Janey Bowden make her. had every chance of achieving her ambition and in between the hard study necessary found time to live a full social life. which quite overshadowed the fact that they were large and nicely surrounded by dark. Once Janey had heard tourists commenting on the two of them. and after all. who was pretty and smart as paint. for they had no reason to believe that she could hear every comment. but what could one do with a face all bones and angles? Even her one good feature.CHAPTER ONE AT Awakopu if you fished off the wharf on an incoming tide you could almost always get sprats in the boat basin. elegant Siamese cat. were the oddest shade of amber and tilted slightly at the corners. way down the road with the cat following closely behind.
sleek and black and busy. Her rubber thongs slapped quietly on the grey-black tarseal of the road. Behind came the cat Shai. keeping up a running commentary in Siamese. for people rose early here. After six years in New Zealand her memories of England were dimmed and she found it hard to believe that any place there could be as beautiful as Awakopu. its bill vivid gold in the sun. its blue and . for it held a beakful of worms. islands and peninsulas. Everything was quiet except for the call of a lone seagull drifting in from the sea. in spite of her mother's yearning for a softer. It didn't last for long. outgoing and gay and vital.never stopped ringing. more tranquil landscape. all still and fresh under the cool jays of the newborn sun. a kind of trilling mew. There was a footpath to one side. Shai stiffened. It changed every few miles from lush pastures and English trees to craggy hills covered in the native rain forest. And everywhere was the sea. but for the moment it belonged to her. Janey heaved a great sigh. She was fun. No one could call Northland tranquil. A blackbird flew up from behind a hedge. then decided to ignore it. she thought appreciatively. Before long there would be cars on the road and the sounds of the world getting ready to face the new day. and Janey loved her dearly but had not the slightest intention of conforming to the pattern Penny had originated. never far from this east coast with its harbours. Janey loved this time of the morning when Awakopu was hers. from the smooth rounded ash cones of long-extinct volcanic explosions to the twisted eroded remnants of lava plugs. its brushlike flowers deep crimson against the eucalypts on the far bank. Out on the little point which marked the bend in the river one brave early pohutukawa was flowering. but it had never been concreted and the long grasses there made her legs sticky with a glue-like substance.
The river channel was well marked. Many tourists visited Awakopu. but they had vitality and energy! Another yacht had come in overnight.brown water. so the Phillips family was astir. for the petrol and water supplies were on the wharf and the grocery store was right at the water's edge. The shop was not yet open. Vulgar and common they might be. Which meant a skilful sailor.sparkling waters and gold-white beaches. If you ware cruising in the north on your yacht it was a good place to provision up. but it would need an experienced yachtsman to make it in the dark—unless it was Red Thomson who boasted that he could do it drunk or sober. from the other end began the slow wind through mangroves which at last brought the river to the sea some five miles away. The boat basin was an almost circular pool of green. so it must have come up in darkness too thick to find a mooring in the basin. It was tied up to the wharf. but from the caretaker's cottage behind the old Warren house came a rich baritone voice singing of a lost love. At the head of it a small river cascaded over a low ledge of rock which marked the tide-line. for it was beautiful. He said his boat felt its own way up the channel without any help from . an ocean-going cruiser if the self-steering vane at the stern was anything to go by. she admired the peacocks which swept gracefully across the lawns but loved the ordinary old ducks which swam in the stream and quacked and dived for bread. so that citrus and kiwi-fruit orchards and great market gardens were found there. Janey loved it with a love which was as deep as it was unspoken. Warren House was now a museum. admiring the flowers and shrubs of the Victorian era. the beautiful gardens about it a park where tourists could wander. Janey decided. It was very lovely but a trifle too civilised for Janey's taste. there was much of historical interest in the area and its climate was sub-tropical. asleep or wide awake.
Unfortunately they didn't appear to be biting. 'Shai!' she hissed. kneeling down so that she was almost on a level with the yacht. baited her hook and dropped the nylon line over the edge of the wharf. because Red was a commercial fisherman. one of her less endearing habits. and called again. and yes. workaday tub was out now. Janey scrambled to her feet as she looked anxiously around. Janey grinned to herself. recently-arrived yacht. so there would be fresh fish later in the day. but Shai remained incommunicado. Janey considered the situation. cat!' she muttered. No answer. Shai would lose her aloofness when the first* silvery sprat was hauled up. a contentment which was part of the freshness of the summer morning washed over her. 'Damn you. watching the gulls with cool interest. biting her lip. The last thing she wanted to do was to wake a probably weary set of yachtsmen by yelling threats at her cat. Shai perched on the top of a pile. Janey sat contentedly.him. As sprats were her favourite food the sight of them reduced her to the same level as any ordinary cat eager for a meal instead of a fastidious aristocrat. Closing her eyes. there were the marks of her paws in the thin film of dew across the coachhouse of the big. she lifted her face to the sun. When next she looked Shai had gone from her perch and was nowhere to be seen. Sitting back on her heels. There was no doubt . long legs dangling. amber eyes gleaming beneath dark brows as she surveyed the wooded hill across the little basin. Kipling's elephant child had nothing on Shai when it came to insatiable curiosity. Janey almost believed him! His rusty. As softly as she could Janey walked over to the edge of the wharf. A warm feeling of well-being. but if she didn't Shai was quite capable of waking them herself by walking over their sleeping faces.
' he said solemnly. A deep masculine voice said something. her footprints left a clear trail across the floor of the cockpit. half pain. Does she usually wake you by walking all over your face?' 'Oh dear!' Janey returned guiltily. the arrogant. in the arms of a large. a lazy somewhat mocking sound on the still air. An odd sensation made itself apparent in the pit of Janey's stomach. casting a glowering look at the culprit who was by now washing her face with elaborate unconcern. 'Cats are amoral animals. After so many years in New Zealand she had become quite accustomed to men who. not a hair ruffled. they were laughing at her now as if they had shared a joke together. very handsome man.that she had gone below. 'I'm terribly sorry. 'You—you wanton. the incalculable. Peering worriedly down. but no man's physical features had ever impinged on her feminine awareness as this man did. It was hard to drag her eyes away from those broad tanned shoulders or the crisp curling V of hair across his chest. Shai patted his chin with one lavender paw.' 'A dangerous but completely feminine trait. fair. you!' The man laughed. Janey couldn't decide what to do. wore no shirt. like Shai's latest conquest. and out came Shai. the easy stance as he stood in . very keen and intent. the door into the cabin slid aside to open to its fullest extent. Trust Shai. a kind of pang which was half pleasure. then leapt gracefully on to the deck making that sweet chirruping sound which is the Siamese purr. She is very curious. He had unfairly long lashes beneath which were set grey-green eyes. to get herself into a situation which would bring no odium on her sleek head but expose her mistress to considerable embarrassment! And then the dilemma was solved. As Janey watched. 'Well!' Janey exclaimed. open-mouthed.
'It's all right for her. didn't like the awareness which must have caused such a peculiar reaction. but he forestalled her exclamation. She didn't want to stay with him in the narrow cockpit. who was not interested in the opposite sex! 'For her ladyship?' He jerked his head towards Shai and when Janey nodded said calmly. That was what good looks did for one. Wait a moment. She was nervous and as shy of him as if he posed some threat to her instead of being a rather pleasant man who had been most charitable about his rude awakening. 'Nobody can put her out of countenance. It was a . Theo Carrington was rather fabulous and he knew it. Who are you?' 'Janey Bowden. pulled her down into the cockpit with him.' 'While you look only too easily tipped off balance.' she said as coolly as she could. A most unusual state of affairs for Janey. and when she bent to take it. Janey gasped.the cockpit smiling up at her. then. This man would have that immense self-assurance even if he were far from handsome. Janey mused gloomily. but she didn't want to go either. 'Serves her right. and as your cat woke me up I think you owe me your company for a few minutes. he was so completely confident and sure of himself. She had a weird sort of feeling that she was being taken over by a superior will and she didn't like it.' 'I'm meant to be fishing. knowing full well that she was wrong. Janey perched on the stern admiring the self-steering gear with a rather bewildered expression in her amber eyes.' she objected rather half-heartedly.' He grinned.' The moment was a minute or so. 'I'm Theo Carrington. put out his hand.
Janey knew very little about men. 'Where have you come from?' 'Auckland. An uncomfortable silence stretched between them. Janey accepted the coffee primly. but even to her inexperienced eyes it was apparent that he was amused by her. A fish splashed. and from one of the old peach trees in the Warren garden a slug-abed thrush delivered his morning chorus. Janey wondered if she should make conversation. Penny was a darling. The sun spilled across the green.' 'Oh! Good trip up?' .brown water in a golden flood. strong enough to warm Janey's back through the thin cotton of her blouse but not quite hot enough to dry the dew. making widening circles on the water. It was rather a tough smile. refused sugar and watched beneath her lashes as he sipped his black steamy brew. at least an hour late. made worse by the fact that this—this awareness of him was for Janey strange and inexplicable and she had no defences against it. Penny was like Mr Carrington.character thing. almost cruel. Rather desperately she asked the first thing which came into her head. and it seemed that she had missed out both ways. a swift glance at Theo Carrington showed that he was smiling rather mockingly at her as if he knew what she was thinking. It was very still. When he emerged from down below he was carrying two mugs of coffee and had pulled on a pale green T-shirt. However. gilded with the same gloss of sophistication and that bone-deep confidence. As always when thinking of her own defects Janey's mind flew to her sister Penny. Janey was certain that that was not how she should allow herself to think of Theo Carrington.
'Tell me about this family.nine. 'Hey!' he exclaimed.' 'Just eighteen. How old was he? Twenty. I suppose so. no vocation. 'Fairly good. aren't you?' 'Well—yes. 'Just. He did not seem to be the sort of man who would find conversation with a schoolgirl interesting.' he said coolly. 'I don't know.' His teasing brought colour rushing to her high cheekbones and. glancing at him doubtfully. the fingers hard and unexpectedly warm against her skin. I'm the dull one of the family. Originally.' He lifted a dark brow at her. 'No.' she said crossly.' 'And what now?' The quick shrug she gave was revealing. What are you doing—working.' She hesitated. anyway. shamingly.He grinned. a film of moisture across her lashes. 'You're too sensitive for your own good. thirty.' He smiled ironically. And no. releasing her as her hashes swept down to hide her eyes. I don't know yet how long I plan to stay. Eighteen. 'Thank God I'm well out of my teens. 'How old are you?' This made her feel more inadequate than ever. school holidays?' 'I've just finished school. but he had an experienced air as if he had .' 'No vocation?' A wry smile touched her lips. and tipped her chin up with his hand. white teeth startling in the deep tan of his face. Janey Bowden. You are English. maybe. a tan which hadn't been manufactured by any New Zealand sun. We broke up a couple of days ago. adding with dignity.
rubbing a hand over the stubble across his chin. Janey was normally reserved to the point of shyness. In the last three months he's grown six inches.' The green-grey glance sharpened. Jane?' . 'He'll regret it. 'Who are "us"?' he asked. my sister Penny who's three years older than me and my brother Paul. 'What does sister Penny do for a living?' 'She's at 'varsity in Auckland studying Law. His health wasn't too good and his doctor thought that the climate would help him and he has a sister in Auckland who sold him on the idea of emigrating to New Zealand.' She looked into her mug before draining the last few drops of coffee in it.' Theo Carrington grinned. Her deep voice warmed. too. Oddly enough he was not difficult to talk to. his yoke has broken and he's developing the beginnings of a beard. 'My parents. but as she spoke of her family she felt some of her tension ease away. 'She does part-time modelling.' This surprised him.' 'Pretty. 'I detect an unconscious note of envy. 'A clever lady indeed. 'We came out here six years ago when my father retired from the Army. 'Don't you look in the mirror.' Janey said. emphasising the crisp clarity of tone which was part of her English heritage.packed a lot of living into those years. The dark brow lifted again. Yet he was watching her with cool speculation obviously waiting for her to speak.' he commented. He is thirteen and not quite sure what's happening to him. I don't think any of us regretted it.' he remarked. irritated by something derisory in his voice.
.She had been called Janey for so long that her given name was strange on his lips. Janey knew that she had neither the temperament or the character to be anything like her sister. The trouble is. setting the mug down on the deck. but said nothing. As she washed her hands and changed from jeans and a T-shirt to one of the frocks her parents insisted she wore indoors she wondered rather bleakly just what she should do now that she had left school. Thank you for the coffee. 'And I must go or they will be wondering what's happened to me. And the compliment was insincere . I don't want to work! I want to mooch around the place catching fish and sailing. disappointing.' she retorted crisply. If she were a man she would . He must think she was a silly little fool if he expected her to fall for flattery like that! With a contraction of her brows she shook her head. Janey felt the mild bewilderment of her mother's gaze and only just stopped herself from shrugging. 'No sprats. dear?' 'No. It was not fair of her mother to expect her to conform to the pattern Penny had set. 'I've more important things to do with my time than peer into a mirror. she thought gloomily.' His smile mocked her sudden withdrawal. Joy seemed to think that if Janey only tried a little harder she would immediately become a sparkling extrovert like her older sister! Even leaving aside the fact that she didn't have the physical equipment. saying goodbye with a kind of casual throwaway charm which annoyed her because she had no way of matching it.. but he made no effort to detain her.' Joy Bowden sighed. being tall and gawky where Penny was petite and superbly co-ordinated.
In spite of her mother's remarks that it would be pleasant to have one of her daughters home with her Janey couldn't help feeling that such an aimless existence would solve nothing. but after a few days of somewhat bemused discussion they had given her their blessing. nursed and loved and eventually found good homes. Independence was a longed-for state. Both careers gave their ungrateful daughter the horrors. but no way were her parents going to approve of that for an ambition! Their hopes for their children ran on strictly conventional lines. which were the only other professions her parents considered suitable. Janey grinned. she was not. Janey rather thought she would have to work in a shop and knew that she would hate being cooped up inside day after day. If she worked she would probably hate it. Yes. remembering the black-backed gull with its vicious beak and broken wing which had terrorised them for weeks. Still. it would be better than teaching or nursing. from which decision he had never deviated. Paul certainly had his future mapped out. but in New Zealand no girl—no healthy girl anyway—sat around at home when she left school. Few people could withstand Penny when she was determined to get her own way! And Paul had decided when he was three that he was going to become a doctor. she knew.like nothing better than to crew on one of the big yachts which regularly left for the tropics from the Bay. . one to be welcomed. Their older daughter's ambition to become a lawyer had startled them both. made of strong enough stuff to cope with either. Unfortunately when vocations had been handed out Janey had been somewhere else. It was all very well for her parents who were of a different culture and generation to welcome the idea of a resident daughter. but at least she would be paying her way. a succession of kittens rescued from the Basin. if the number of bandaged and cosseted animals which he had cared for over the years was any indication. Quite clearly he had a vocation.
' her father commented over his coffee. . 'An ocean cruiser. 'Nice is hardly the word. undecided whether to be irritated or amused.' Joy said quietly. but she had learnt to keep quiet about it. regardless of whether their children thought them hopelessly antiquated and stuffy or not. Janey grinned. but if you mean suitable. Nice?' By this her mother meant was he the sort of person who would be welcomed into the Bowden household! As always this effortless division of humanity into two camps irritated Janey. ignoring the pained look in her mother's fine eyes. I'd say so.'I see there's a new yacht in the basin. No one. but they were fond of saying that there were certain standards they upheld. she thought. 'His name is Theo Carrington and he didn't mind Shai walking all over his face and waking him up. So she shrugged. He speaks like an educated man. He was now accepted as a kind of honorary harbour master. money has nothing to do with it. and that boat didn't cost chickenfeed. which pleased and gratified him and gave him a certain standing in the district. He's up from Auckland. A couple of times rescue parties had gone out when the Colonel had noticed the continued absence of yachts which should have returned.' 'Janey. could call her parents snobs. 'Don't try to be provocative.' 'Oh.' he continued. dear.' Meekly Janey returned to the demolition of her grapefruit. He kept an eye on the happenings in the boat basin with the aid of a pair of binoculars. looking at his daughter. It had become an early morning and late evening ritual which on occasion had helped the locals.
' he was off into technicalities understood only by himself and Paul. And that bow. It became very hot. No doubt that was the emotion her father meant to convey too. a thing of grace and beauty which caused a nameless ache in her heart. looking down at the basin. . almost as hot as it would be in February at the height of summer. Janey stopped clipping the dead heads from the rose bushes to watch as suntanned women walked to the store to stock up on groceries and picture postcards. 'You can always tell his yachts.about spurning the offerings with utmost disdain. etched clear against her thoughts like a silhouette. Yachts and power boats chugged up the river towards the wharf to take on supplies of fuel and water—so many that at one stage there was quite a queue waiting. Children called and yelled and threw bits of ice-cream cone to the ducks who accepted them gratefully and the peacocks who walked . But the lean mockingly handsome face of the yacht's owner kept springing to mind. That was what Janey envied him fiercely as she made beds and dusted and hung the washing out on the line. Theo Carrington must have some form of income. and that was something she had determined to waste no time before contemplating. He even prevented her from thinking about her gloomy future. but he and Paul were well away into the jargon beloved of men and she preferred to think of the Toroa as the wandering albatross which was the meaning of her Maori name. . To her the yacht had looked like a bird asleep on its natural element. Janey ate a piece of toast.' her father said now. Instead she found herself wondering rather wistfully what it would be like to own a boat like Toroa and sail wherever you wanted to go without worrying about earning a living. of traffic increased as tourists flocked in by bus and car to visit the Warren house and wander through the beautiful grounds. but he had freedom. Stifling a sigh. The volume.'It looks like a Smith design. they sit so sweetly on the water. of course...
She went up the steps into the coolness of the vine-shaded terrace and put her strong young arm about Joy's thin shoulders.' Janey nodded.' she said a little fretfully. a thin hand pushing faded blonde hair back from her forehead. the air of gaiety and the holiday atmosphere while the other half of her longed for the stillness and silence of the morning. 'I wanted him to mow the back lawn. trying to sound brisk and competent.' 'Oh.' she said. 'Sit down and I'll bring you some lime juice. 'Aren't you sleeping well?' Joy smiled faintly. then her mother appeared on the shady terrace. 'but I suppose it would be better to do it later when it's cooler. This was another fortnight away. Janey. but Joy was a perfectionist and thought that it would take at least that long for everything to be as neat as she wished. 'Janey!' Her mother's call made her start guiltily to clip off a few more dead heads.Janey enjoyed the bustle. With Dad.and I do want to have the place tidy before then. on the day before Christmas. A feeling of great love for her mother swept over Janey. There's so much to do before Christmas . especially when she was pushing herself as she was now to get everything spick and span for Penny's homecoming. After all these years Joy still found the summer heat hard to tolerate. are you going to come to the Drama Club Christmas party?' .' There was silence for a few moments. where's Paul?^ 'Down in the basin. 'Do I look that tired? As it happens I have had several restless nights. 'Janey.
' Joy returned swiftly and gallantly. Mr Harvey wants me to pick strawberries. I need to earn some money.. she discovered with a strange tremor in her nerves. With a sinking heart she realised that she could not add to Joy's burden by being unco-operative. long and lanky and subdued. I'll get you that lime juice. her father and Paul had arrived back home. 'Oh.' Janey laughed appreciatively. for you never go to them! How can you learn any social graces if you refuse to practise them? How do you think Penny gained her poise? Not by sitting at home and reading.' Janey smiled. 'You know parties aren't my thing. a clear. before adding with low cunning.On the point of a flat refusal Janey caught the wistfulness in her mother's expression.' Janey smiled ruefully. you win! Now.' 'A forget-me-not has its own charm. I suppose so. oddly provocative sound which seemed at odds with her appearance. 'We're totally different. 'I'm like the tangi-weed on the roadside. was Theo Carrington. Mum!' she protested mildly. as different as a rose from a forget-me-not.' her mother murmured. May I?' 'Oh dear. tall and long-limbed and enigmatic. touched by the unexpectedness of her mother's remark.K. not very ornamental and of little practical use. 'O. 'If you'll come to the Drama Club party with your father and me. and with them. you can't possibly know that.' She looked up at her daughter.' 'Dear. 'Yes. very assured in shorts and thongs and a . 'Penny was born with all of the social graces at her fingertips. she and I.' she said. 'Perhaps I used the wrong flower.' When she reappeared with the tray. or going flounder fishing on the mud-flats. Mum.
Janey decided that she did not like him. 'She belongs to my other daughter.' Joy said brightly. on Penny's ambitions—or anything else. 'But Penny's one on her own.' she said somewhat distractedly. He looked totally in command of the situation. 'Everyone is sure that she has a brilliant future ahead of her. daring him to comment any further. to her surprise she saw that Joy was as much aware of him as her naive daughter had been when first they met.' Ian Bowden confided somewhat smugly. her pride in her daughter transparent.' he agreed. the prospective lawyer.' 'Ah yes.' 'Don't believe in clever women. stooping to stroke the Siamese as it wound sinuously around his ankles. She's always known exactly what she's wanted and never let anyone stand in her way. And pretty as a picture with it. She felt a fierce. protective pride in her family and returned a fiery glance. He was arrogant with a kind of indolent. 'Yes.' Joy declared. as her mother fluttered beside him. Penny. inbred assurance which made him so completely at home here that he could indulge himself in laughter at their expense..' . directing towards Janey that half-mocking. and Janey you have met.shirt which was casual but well-bred. she's doing so well.. 'Shai too. 'Shai is quite shameless.' His voice was quite solemn.grey glance. but there was swift amusement in the green. Janey expected her mother's usual reaction of faint disapproval at such informal attire. '. half-speculative glance which had so irritated her.
' he answered. his light brown eyes never leaving the lean. clever face. Janey decided that it was time to go and began to slide off unobtrusively in her usual fashion. He sat as close as he could. The light chit-chat was predictably dull.' Miserably conscious of the fact that her denim shorts were as short and skimpy as decency allowed. 'Not in the least. They all settled down to an exchange of social pleasantries which would reveal to her mother whether Theo was a respectable person to know. darling.' she said lightly. Theo drank rum and soda over ice. 'Don't go. and all the time he was laughing at them! How could they be so blind as not to see it? . accepting their hospitality and the offer of friendship. Janey could only hope that it was clear that their brevity was because they were old and not any deliberate effort at allure or attraction! Carrington's cool. Joy accepted a splash of gin in lime. directing a look of unmistakable meaning towards her. Janey watched as her father hospitably produced and poured drinks.' Theo returned politely. then one dark brow lifted. But it seemed that Joy had decided to haul her daughter willy-nilly into this peculiarly adult pastime.'She sounds a paragon. It was easy to see that Paul was enormously impressed with this big blond giant who possessed more than his share of worldly sophistication. He was sitting there. direct gaze rested for a moment on the tanned length of her legs. 'Mr Carrington won't mind your working clothes. and this time the irony was so plain that Janey wondered miserably why her parents weren't aware of it.
goaded voice she muttered. 'And how long do you plan to stay here?' Joy enquired. 'Plenty to see here. Will you stay and have some with us. wondering why on earth such a thought should occur to her. dear. Mr Carrington?' and thereby signified her acceptance of him. answering the cry for help. directing a look very close to an appeal to her husband. T thought I'd go and see about lunch. 'If you're interested in history there's the Warren place and the Pioneer Village at the back of it. she thought dazedly. 'If I like the place it might be all summer. but he was a man who possessed an uncompromising strength of personality which impressed all who met him.' he said pleasantly.In a tight.' Ian said abruptly. which could harden into a ruthlessness akin to cruelty. 'I haven't decided yet. accepting the invitation without hesitation. Janey kept her head averted. and probably. but could feel his glance on the profile she presented to him. just as plainly she had heard the note in his voice which forbade any further enquiry into his affairs. as well as the steam railroad which runs . 'It's all ready. Janey felt her teeth clamp on her bottom lip momentarily. He was all charm. It was there in the harsh lines of his features. A sea-tramp he might be. With a question hovering on her lips Joy closed them firmly.' 'Indeed?' Plainly Joy was nonplussed. otherwise I'll move on fairly soon. Reprovingly Joy returned. in the cool arrogance of his glance. in the firmly chiselled mouth which could quirk in humour.' not caring that she sounded ungracious and gauche. There could be no doubt about his ability to influence other people.
Janey listened. deliberate voice.' Theo Carrington said. completely absorbed by the deep. 'All the advantage lies with the fisherman.through one of the orchards and the collection of old machines they have there. with a spare economy of words which conveyed more to his hearers than a profusion of adjectives could have done. As fascinated as her brother. When he finished Janey saw Paul nod as though satisfied with Theo's integrity. Janey thought. Told it well. And people are catching marlin out Of the Bay. for apart from the more obvious attributes like his handsome face and athletic body. 'Janey and I go flounder fishing down the inlet a bit.' Paul put in shyly.' Pressed eagerly by Paul he told a story about catching a salt-water crocodile in Timor. even if it is a bit early for the main run of big-game fish. She knew exactly what that unconscious movement of her brother's head meant. The man was definitely to be believed. and that valuation was revealed in his massive self-confidence. They too had been impressed by the little story and were not to prepared to accept him fully in spite of their inherent distrust of men who roamed the seas without visible means of support! Indeed there would be few people who wouldn't accept the man at his own valuation.' 'Game fishing here is too easy. but neither did he brag. mocking charm.' 'There's fishing. It's different in other parts of the world. he possessed an air of competence . but he would certainly never be ignored or underestimated. He was not falsely modest about his part in the eventual death of the beast. too. for no one could have faked a story like that. and the two other men involved came ajive as he spoke. People might suspect him to be dangerous or mistrust that easy. A subtle change made itself apparent in her parents' attitude.
she thought defiantly. and it was quite clear that his shoulders were broad enough for any number of cares. and it might pay to remember that. Theo Carrington was the sort of man on whom others depended. met the lazy taunt of his eyes and was angry at the heat in her cheeks. was the sort of man who could be quite ruthless in abandoning those who clung. . He also. Janey risked a look at him.which was reassuring.
dear? I wonder how long he does plan to stay?' 'Probably doesn't know himself.' 'Do him good to admire a physical. or he had been on the move from a very early age. and nobody cared to ask him. he couldn't understand why a man who seemed as purposeful as Theo Carrington. He didn't say which. Janey could see. a man. Like her. he strikes me as being a very intelligent and interesting man. 'Possibly. Possibly got private means and can't settle down.' Joy looked up from the evening paper.CHAPTER TWO JUST before dinner Ian. 'I see Carrington has moored his yacht on Harry Turner's old mooring.' Which. If the boy gets to be a nuisance I'll tip Carrington the wink and he can choke him off. Which led one to suppose that either he was a lot older than the thirty years or so he looked. still vaguely. outdoor type like Carrington instead of Louis Pasteur. 'I must say. 'Has he. should be content to drift aimlessly from port to port around the world. from his usual place by the window remarked. yet. was going to be her father's theory from now on. dear.' he commented. 'Shouldn't think many women would say otherwise. Pity he leads such a shiftless life. who knew exactly where he was going.' Ian said jovially. To her surprise Janey noticed her mother go rather pink and pat her hair self-consciously.' she admitted. 'He is very much a man. peering over the top of her spectacles. Hope it .' Joy said now. I notice. for his conversation had revealed an intimate knowledge of many countries. you'd have thought.' Her husband gave an unexpected chuckle. 'Paul is going to have a bout of hero-worship.
he did not wear sunglasses so she could see the tiny lines around his eyes which were indicative of long days spent in the glare of sun and sea. by way of greeting.' he said ironically. I should say he's fairly easy-going even if he doesn't suffer fools gladly. hoping rather desperately that neither of the two elderly ladies who owned Sarah's Bazaar had heard his scornful comment.' 'The New Zealand public has risen in my estimation. 'but not many.doesn't come to that. Unlike most of the holidaymakers and Janey herself. looking at the array of goods for sale with an expression of sardonic amusement. 'Do you mean to tell me that people actually buy junk like that?' Janey looked apprehensively into the dark interior of the shop. All to no avail. so in spite of Shai's velvet paw patting her awake the next morning. which was just as well.' No one asked Janey her views on Theo Carrington. adding honestly.' he said. He was standing in front of a durio shop. Perhaps he saw her reflection in the window as the car door closed.' she said. I'm afraid. 'Yes. for he turned when she came on to the footpath. she resolutely refused to go down and fish for sprats. 'This isn't a bad shopping area apart from that load of old rubbish. She had decided not to think about him at all. 'What a load of garbage. 'Have you bought your picture postcards?' . When she went up to the village half a mile away to collect her mother's shopping he was the first person she saw as she climbed out of the car.' She laughed.
you see. Of course she could not obey her first instinct which was to run like hell in the opposite direction. 'No doting great-aunts?' she said brightly. but she thanked heaven for the sunglasses hiding her eyes.' 'Oh. Love them and leave them. Women like roots.'No one to send them to. 'Perhaps it comes with age. even the same bare-kneed and sunburned tourists. I mean. and I have none. 'Most women want a settled life with a house and a husband home at five-thirty. the same shops. for they concealed the instinctive widening of her pupils.' The sun struck gold from his hair as he stood smiling down at her. the same hot street. trying to suppress an odd bubble of emotion which was colouring the world around her with excitement. and there was a dry note in his voice as he continued.' 'Exactly. 'No languishing old flames?' He chuckled. And yet it was the same world she had despaired of a week ago.' The amusement faded from his face leaving it suddenly hard. I treat them so badly. 'Not a great-aunt within fifty years and toy old flames are usually glad to see me go. the physical recognition of interest. 'The desire to settle down.' she said. deep within her stomach and knew a fear that was more than physical. Typical sailor fashion. the same tinselly Christmas decorations.' 'Not even a dear old mum?' 'Not her style. Janey felt that unnerving pang. almost predatory.' Janey considered this. At the moment I can think of nothing more desirable than sailing off into tomorrow.' .
That dark brow lifted as his gaze intensified. Apparently Theo had made the same decision and inevitably one of the shop assistants had seen her talk to him in the street. no doubt to arrange for the collection of his mail. might have helped make her decision when first she came. unlike Janey who usually felt very much the schoolgirl when talking to her.' he remarked. 'and compared to some of them a romantic is pretty mild. 'Yes. but I've got a quantity of groceries waiting for me at the supermarket and only a paper bag to carry them in. 'You're a ' romantic. to the grocer's. saying that it combined the personal service of the small store with the efficiency of the large. Where are you going?' 'To the grocer's. She was the same age as Janey but had been working at the shop for the two years since she had left school and considered herself an adult. .' She looked a little shyly at him. even the way you said it.' He intended stopping at the Post Office. 'I've been called a lot of things. 'An interesting choice of phrase. so I'll accept gratefully. Jane Bowden.' Oddly enough the taunt didn't disturb her much.' 'Normally I'd refuse with dignity. 'And that's as pleasant a way of shutting me up as any I know.' He grinned.' A swift scrabble in her handbag produced her mother's list. so after deciding to meet back at the car they went their separate ways. unable to tell him that she had not meant to 'shut him up'.' she returned. but she had never found any cause to change it. not unkindly. The fact that the owners were English and kept a large store of delicacies from 'home' as they called their native land. 'If you'd like to wait I can give you a ride back to the basin. Mrs Bowden shopped at the middle-sized grocery store in Awakopu.
Dad is desperately trying to get men for the haymaking season. I just couldn't see myself milking cows night and morning for the next fifty years. who knew quite well that for all her surface glamour and sophistication. Terry and I have split up. I like those tall blond giants.' Janey.' she said now above the sound of the coffee grinder. her beautifully cared for hands deft as she weighed out tomatoes.bump like a piston! I hope he stays around for a while.' Janice said enviously. Janey. He was getting too serious which was rather flattering. 'When he came into the shop my heart went bump-bump.' 'Lucky girl. 'He came in yesterday morning in a super yacht and Dad brought him up for lunch. 'Theo Carrington. Janice was a competent and efficient farmer's daughter who would make some farmer a superb wife.' Janey disliked gossip. and let's face it. how you can eat that stuff I'll never know. so she continued. but I don't want to get married for a while yet. grinned again but said nothing. but Janice was friendly and open. 'You'd better not let Terry hear you say that!' 'Oh. I wonder if Mr Carrington wants a job.' 'This early?' .' 'Almost sissy. 'What's your friend's name?' Janice enquired. far from malicious.' Janey grinned. isn't it? Blue vein cheese? Ugh.'That's a gorgeous man you were talking to. I saw some under the microscope at school once—put me off cheese for the rest of my life. Do you know him?' 'Barely.
'No. Unlike you I have work to do. 'Will you come in for a drink or do you want to go straight home?' she asked.' he answered with unhelpful promptness. It almost sounded as though he intended to stay for some time. but there just aren't the students around to help like there usually sure. then chuckling. the work isn't so hard. Some hitherto unknown emotion was born in Janey's heart and she found herself smiling faintly for no reason. 'You appear relaxed and at ease behind the wheel. With the hot spring season we've had the hay is ready. And the high-school boys seem to prefer the orchards and market gardens.' But he was a New Zealander. why?' 'He made a good job of it. and that meant that he didn't despise physical labour.Janice nodded. yet fully in control. 'Home.' said Janey. and it lasts all through the holidays. thanks. smiling wryly. I suppose. Who taught you to drive?' 'My father. Which is distinctly unusual for one of your age and sex. When Janey mentioned it to him he looked thoughtful.' 'Well. 'That's the trouble. 'It could be a good idea.' 'You aren't by any chance a male chauvinist?' Janey asked sweetly.' . 'You'll have to find that out for yourself. He might think that I'm too forward and that haymaking is beneath his dignity.' he returned. 'or would you like to?' Janice shook her head. torn between pleasure at the compliment and anger at the implied patronage. I'll ask him. you see.
She darted him an enquiring look. Tourists flocked in. Janey donned a huge sunhat and sunglasses. wore a bikini under her other clothes and picked strawberries. as the big coaches took them from historic place to historic place in the district. even those poor souls who misjudged the heat of the northern sun and suffered severely with sunburn. the land parching under the brazen bowl of the sky. outnumbering the locals. and both the Bowden parents were involved in the organisation. So she nodded and concentrated on getting down the hill to the wharf without running down any ducks or tourists. As clearly as if he had said it aloud she had received a signal that questions would be unwelcome. Janey washed the breakfast dishes after they had left. put on the best of her somewhat scanty wardrobe of sundresses. Seven days before Christmas the local business men organised a Christmas Parade. Farmers began to look anxious and talk of a twenty-year drought while the market gardeners watched the level of the streams and dams carefully. shedding layers of apparel as the sun climbed higher in the sky. Summer set in hot and dry. Her skin tanned slowly to a golden brown as her fingers nipped the scarlet fruits from the plants and her bank balance began to assume a more healthy look. of course. Everyone went. those who weren't on a float joining the visitors on the footpaths to clap and cheer and exclaim as the parade went by. so were busy at the assembly point in the Domain. All over Awakopu the pumps started up and their muted thudding became as much a part of life as the rainbows imprisoned in the great arcs of water which were jetted out by the irrigation sprinklers. . it seemed. and set off for the village on foot. met eyes which were blandly uncommunicative and flushed slightly. for seldom was the weather so kind to them this early in the season. They were eminently happy. Paul was a Scout and would be marching with his friends.
I wonder if it will last. no older than a year and still unsteady on her feet. aware of the interest in people's eyes as they saw the two of them together.Before she had walked a hundred yards she was picked up by friends of her parents who parked their car behind the supermarket and disappeared off to do some shopping. I think.' 'How's the haymaking?' He tucked her hand into his elbow. tall and thin and gravely watching as people flowed past her. 'Hot and dry and hard. but Janey walked under the feathery branches of the melia trees alone.' someone said over her shoulder.' 'It's been an incredible season. It was very hot and the town was crowded. as I intend to stay here until March.' 'Oh!' It was absurd and more than probably very dangerous to be so happy. A toddler. 'You're brown. stumbled in front of her. but Janey could not prevent a surge of elation which brought a smile to her lips. 'Theo!' And suddenly even the tinny Christmas carols blaring forth from the loudspeakers became imbued with sweetness and Janey smiled. 'Come and keep me company. 'Well done. touching her bare arm in what almost seemed a caress. or if we'll have rain all through January and February. Contentedly she allowed him to guide her through the throng of shoppers to a vantage point outside one of the banks.' 'I hope not.' he said. We've just about broken the back of it. Swiftly Janey bent and caught her before she had time to fall. and the little girl gave her a charming smile as she was restored to her mother. but I've enjoyed using a few muscles again. Another couple of days will see an end. .
waved to Paul who ignored her resolutely. as you must know. to the grandmotherly Mrs Farnham who thought him a very nice young man. silly girl!' . He had been to dinner twice at Mrs Bowden's insistence and had proved highly successful with both sexes. rather high-handed brother. but nothing can ever recapture a lost innocence. from the school friend who discovered in herself an intense interest to see how Janey was getting on. but I do love parades. Altogether a paragon. introduced Theo to several people and watched as he charmed them all effortlessly. as Paul had discovered. I was paying you a compliment. You're a child. An answering gleam lit the depths of his glance. cheered the trick cyclists and the clowns and sighed with pleasure when it was all over. In fact. The parade was fun. 'My dear girl. Janey looked up into a teasing smile and flushed. 'I know it's childish. Janey clapped the floats. In measured tones he said.' she said defensively. don't apologise. she thought wryly. He was the stuff heroes were made of. so why shouldn't you enjoy childish things? As a matter of fact I enjoyed it myself. It's easy enough to ape the sophisticate. and she rather felt that she was going to be afflicted by the same hero-worship.''Don't be patronising!' she retorted.She exchanged greetings. Men liked him too. 'Have you any shopping to do?' Theo asked. 'Childhood ^has an innocence which is intensely appealing. though he behaved to her like a tolerant. he had become a sort of social lion. watching as a pipe-band marched past heralding the parade. temper flashing gold sparks in her strangely coloured eyes.
medium sized and extremely comfortable. The sun beat down fiercely on her head and shoulders. He had a car.'Would you like it if someone called you a boy?' she asked swiftly. The . Came his swift spurt of laughter and an outflung hand acknowledging a hit. When the river broadened into an inlet the mangroves receded and Theo turned the runabout towards a series of low cliffs and coves on the southern side of the inlet. brand new. And when she had changed into shorts and left a note for her mother they went like conspirators down the hill to the basin. sweet Jane. and as the deeper water ran by the northern coast most of the floating traffic kept away from this less favoured shore. but it's long years since I had any claim to innocence. unlike others who sped past. bewildered by the change in subject. sombre as he said: 'Touche. Janey was absorbed with interest.' she murmured. their wash tearing at the fragile ecology of the mangrove swamps. Leave a note at home for your parents and I'll take you to a beach I discovered a few days ago. she noticed. but his expression was . but a recklessness she had not possessed until that moment made her nod her head. The runabout slipped through the mangroves which lined the river with the minimum amount of noise. What are you doing now?' 'Nothing. Janey sat in the stern watching with half-closed eyes as the writhing roots and twisted grey trunks slipped past. now. for there was no road access to the beaches on this coast. and after that she was swept along on his swift tide-race of personality. Theo obeyed the rules and went no faster than five knots.' For a moment she hesitated. splintering light from the water so that instead of blue it was white-silver. 'Then come with me.
Janey sat silent. It is the Matthews' farm. vibrantly alive in every fibre of her being. After a long moment she swung over and on to the sand beneath the milk-warm water. 'I've never been here. 'This is beautiful. please.pohutukawa trees blazed like crimson and scarlet torches against the pale cinnamon hills. leaving her to soak in the beauty in a kind of wordless communication which she had never known existed. 'Who knows? Just be grateful for its presence. A little stream ran . their crooked limbs seeming to caress the air. their flower stalks reaching up like surrealistic antlers. Do you want to explore?' 'Yes. He was smiling but said nothing.' she said softly. dull red carpet.' 'I wonder why they left the bush as a backdrop when they cleared the land. spellbound by the beauty of it.' He shrugged. content to let her hand rest within his for as long as he wanted it there. sweet-scented flower clusters to the sun and clumps of flax bushes rustled in the breeze. old-man pohutukawas. scarcely conscious that the boat was nosing in towards a tiny half-moon of rose-pink sand sheltered protectively by three huge. The sudden silence as Theo cut the engine startled her. drawing her across the scorching pink beach into the shade of the great trees. powerful shoulders moving easily beneath the thin cotton of his shirt. isn't it?' 'Yes. Theo joined her and took her hand carelessly in his.' she said simply. Beneath their feet the fallen tassels of the pohutukawa flowers made a thick. The little bay was backed by perhaps two acres of flat land where cabbage palms with spiky heads lifted great.
'I was a very raw twenty when I left home determined to prove to myself that I could make my own way in the world.' 'How long were you away?' Janey asked shyly. but when I pictured it there was always the sound of the cicadas in the trees. Great tree-ferns. 'I'm glad I came back. but one's home country is part of one's being. enchanted by the luxuriance and the fresh beauty. wishing that she could think of something poetic to say in appreciation. anyway. It was icy-cold and clear.' Nodding. the ponga of the Maori. 'I longed for this sometimes. I scraped and saved and worked and got myself enough money to fit out a very small version of Toroa. he looked around. held their Catherine wheels of fronds high beneath the canopy and there were long trails of vines looped from branch to branch amid all of the lush greenness of the supporting shrubs and trees. The world has a lot to offer. and like all yachties I left for the islands. 'It doesn't look as though cattle have ever been allowed through here. 'Ten years. unpolluted by anything other than the leaves from the karaka and karo trees which were predominant on the forested hillside.' 'It's too early for them yet. He gave her hand a tug and pulled her up a steep bank to stand beside him on the brink of a tiny waterfall. when I was away from it all. to sober up as it wound its way across one side of the valley and through the pink sand in a shallow fan of water.' Janey murmured.' Theo answered.' . 'Not within a lifetime.' He slanted a sardonic glance at her.chattering down from the forested hillside. 'They come in the new year. his eyes very keen and intent as they surveyed the vegetation and the stream.' said Janey.
Fiji. Fortunately wielded by a woman. Nodding. yet a different world. Samoa. Janey stared. You meet some rough types in waterfront dives. 'I wouldn't recommend that way of slaking it. too?' he asked. about two inches long.' Badly shaken. so not too severe. 'It was a broken bottle. some few used the islands as stepping stones for the wider world. As he said. 'A woman?' she asked faintly. there was a constant stream of yachts which headed north to cruise among the coral atolls and volcanic high islands each year after the hurricane season had passed. the joy of an-oasis^ in the desert and the incredible clarity of light which played over Greece and its islands. near enough to fly to for a fortnight's holiday. his astute grey-green glance resting quizzically on her face.' Theo didn't expand on the subject. Islands of enchantment and trogicsd magic. instead he told her of the dangers of pirates when one sailed in Indonesian waters and described the life of a pearl fisherman in the Persian Gulf. 'A woman. 'The islands'. remained.' 'Is that where you got your scar?' It was just above his left eyebrow. Tahiti were only a few. Thus all New Zealanders referred to the gems which dotted the south seas with their musical names—Rarotonga.Janey nodded. Perhaps the sigh she gave had something of envy in it. 'Poor Jane. he said coolly. thin and white against his tan. for Theo nodded. and some. snarled by enchantment. Most came back before the next hurricane struck. and there was only a thread of mockery in the deep voice. . are you imbued with wanderlust.
or look tolerant as she was half afraid he might. Instead. He even managed to coax her favourite fantasy from her. unconsciously noting every inflection and shade of expression as if filing the memory of it away for some dreary winter day when the rain slashed against the windows and everything was dark cold and miserable and Theo Carrington was long gone from Awakopu. 'Well. And a tiled floor so that it would be easy to sweep the sand out. Whenever I come to a place I fall in love with I amuse myself by fitting the right house into it. 'Why do you look around so carefully as if you were measuring something?' She smiled.' He didn't laugh.' 'The house?' 'Yes. Those unusual eyes missed nothing. the sky bluer. tell me about this house.' 'Something low tucked in among the trees. Merely it seemed that suddenly the air was brighter. Not that she realised just how much she was allowing herself to react to the man. the bush more green and refreshing.Completely absorbed. With a terrace and lots of windows to take advantage of the view. and flushed slightly.' she returned lightly. but drugged by the sun and the sea did not hesitate in her answer. he demanded. Janey listened to the-deep voice. 'I was fitting the house in.' 'A hideaway?' . for as they moved down the slopes of the hill to the little flat he asked. 'A house it would be difficult to see from the sea. Perhaps it was that afternoon out of time which started a process so insidious that she had no idea of its beginning.
Not that it would remain like that for long. although his eyes had the sheen of burnished metal. are you ready?' Janey nodded glumly. turned and walked down the hill away from him. 'Please try to remember. silver against the sky.' he agreed. but a bargain was a bargain and her bank balance was now in a very healthy state because her mother had given in over the strawberry picking. 'Beautiful. moist. afraid that she had made a fool of herself. and this year she had decided to buy herself some clothes. the blending scents of sea and bush. Apparently jeans were not acceptable at adults' functions. suddenly afraid.' she went on plaintively. so she was forced to wear a pale green patterned . When Janey looked up at him the handsome features were remote. almost chilling against the warmth of the sky. she had discovered to her horror that the only dress her mother considered suitable for party-going was an appalling outfit about two years old. an odd note of withdrawal in his voice. This was a very recent decision made. Christmas had a debilitating effect on the money she managed to save during the year. fruitful air. A faint feather of unease made its way down Janey's spinal colum. when on arriving home after the afternoon out with Theo. she gave a shiver and. breathing deeply of the salty. She was not looking forward to the Drama Club Christmas party. Overhead a gull called forlornly as it wheeled ins a great circle. 'It's so untouched. 'Janey.'So that it wouldn't spoil the look of the coast. you must stand up straight!' Joy sighed as she watched her daughter jerk herself upright with a guilty start. Now.' she said softly. 'You spoil the look of all your clothes by slouching like that.' She turned and looked at the tree-clad hills behind them.
she thought sourly. but you've let her success strip away your confidence. and justice meant a lot to Janey. The sound of her mother's voice made her scowl. who was born one. your younger daughter isn't ever going to turn into a swan.' Joy complained. straightened up and even permitted Joy to dab her with lavender water before collapsing into a chair and ruining the entire effect. whereas poor old Janey thinks it's terribly kind of humanity to accept her as one of them. 'Janey!' 'Oh—Mum!' she sat up and threw her mother a rueful smile. Storks had nothing on her when it came to length.cotton which made her look like an overgrown schoolgirl. she was positively ostrich-like. 'My lady Penelope was born knowing exactly how to conduct herself. 'Let's face it. You haven't altered the setting of those glasses. but in all fairness she had to admit that if she had wanted a new dress she had left things far too late to get one. So she replaced the scowl by a smile. unlike Penny. have you?' . The difference between her and Janey is that Penny is quite sure she's God's gift to mankind.' 'Don't you believe it. 'I know that life has come easily to her. dear. Paul. love. emphasising the length of her arms and legs and the sweeping line of her body from throat to hip. 'You should be past the age of trying to capture attention by talking about things you don't understand.' 'You have a thing about Penny.' Paul observed flippantly from behind the sofa where he was peering through binoculars at the boat basin.' Mrs Bowden looked at him with something like horror in her fine eyes before saying feebly. And even she wasn't born knowing how to conduct herself properly.
and they set off. elegant way. .' he said nonchalantly.. She had gone away to boarding school and was now at university in Auckland—wasting time. She was very pretty in a fine. 'Well. Looking across at her mother Janey saw that the identical thought had occurred to her. most of them wealthy. and if Theo Carrington had been admitted into that sort of society then his credentials must be impeccable.'Yes. she told him in very casual tones what Paul had seen. and if he doesn't know they've been touched he doesn't complain. 'Easy enough to see that he's no tramp. I say. Penny had scoffed. When her husband came into the room muttering as always about being forced to go put.' Which was a direct slander as Phyl Talbot did no more than frost the ends of her gloriously silky tresses. all of them possessing that casual air of sophistication which was part of Theo's stock-in. Phyl lived a few miles out of town with her parents on a large cattle property.trade too. At least that was what her expensive and exclusive hairdresser in Auckland did. Phyl Talbot belonged to a pastoral family with branches all over the country.' Ian snorted. there's Mr Carrington being picked up by that girl Talbot. Paul chuckled as he picked up his guitar. The one with the dyed hair. 'But I always put them back to Dad's setting. Joy's eyebrows were raised and she looked thoughtful.boned. are you ready?' His wife and daughter exchanged resigned looks. until she found a nice rich man to marry.
it seemed that every woman there had decided to dress to the hilt. Awakopu was exceedingly fortunate in its hall. not without a certain grim humour. caught her eye and smiled. but the girl was excited. she determined to find some quiet corner and hide in it. but to her horror he looked across the intervening heads. for it had been planned very carefully and. The green dress seemed to become more and more conspicuous every moment in comparison with the pretty kaftans and party dresses she could see all around her. . 'Little Orphan Annie. And he seemed to be enjoying the situation. oddly warmed by the sly laughter in his glance. as she followed her parents through the foyer. but it was not until her startled eyes fell on the fair head of Theo Carrington that she realised just how much she disliked looking so dowdy and unfashionable. opened the French doors on to the terrace overlooking the river and strung fairy lights through the trees in the garden outside.' she thought. After the first astonished look Phyl Talbot seemed quite pleasant: possibly. a community centre. charming to Janey and only too obviously smitten with Theo. Janey didn't know exactly what emotion gleamed in those narrowed eyes whenever his glance met Phyl's. Janey thought. It looked very gay and very festive. The Drama Club had decorated the big supper room with roses and ferns. And she smiled back. determined to extract the last ounce of misery out of the situation. because of a bequest there had been no stinting of money. Fervently hoping that he wouldn't see her for the entire evening. almost overwrought. they made their way to the hall. because she could see that Janey was no competition. Whatever the reason she was sweetly deferential to Mr and Mrs Bowden. So in spite of the fact that it was thirty years old it was still exactly what it had been built to be.CHAPTER THREE AFTER they had dropped Paul off at the home of one of his friends where he was going to spend the night. Unfortunately for Janey.
A dangerous man. After half an hour or so spent listening to her mother chatting to various friends Janey felt a tap on her shoulder and turned. People began to dance.' Sam was big and dark and exactly the same age as Janey. the band had swung into a tune. 'Sam!' she exclaimed. he wore all of his ancestors with a cheerful irreverence which usually reduced . her pleasure bringing some fleeting beauty to her expression. She knew little of the relations between men and women. dangerous even to Janey Bowden who was not profoundly interested in the opposite sex.her colour high in her cheekbones and her voice slightly shrill. It was impossible to conduct any sort of conversation for. Sam loved humanity and humanity reciprocated. Fortunately the evening was not a complete disaster. Part Maori. Somehow charm seemed inadequate. but it was easy to see that Phyl was in the grip of something she did not want to resist and Janey rather thought that she herself was suffering from an overdose of Carrington charm. if that was what. From the corner of her eye Janey saw Phyl melt into Theo's arms as if that was the only place she wanted to be. Such naked longing made a desolation of Janey's heart. He was the one male apart from Paul and her father with whom she felt completely at ease. probably because he treated her as if he was the older brother she had never had. you could call it. There could be no doubt that Theo had an effect on her almost as powerful as a drug. what Theo had was a kind of physical magnetism which was reinforced by the fact that he had the looks of a blond Viking. part Jugoslav and part Scottish. and an authority which came from deep within him. when did you get here? I thought you were spending the summer digging up iron ore over in Western Australia. 'Sam.
Is he making a play for you? Because if he is. He was going to be a doctor and had just done his firsts year's pre-med at university.people to shocked giggles but lost him no respect. Be sensible. I got a job in the freezing works for the vacation. there's a good boy. 'I say. being Sam. I can see I'd better give you a few lessons on the facts of life. sweetest. 'No.' she returned amiably. he isn't in the least interested in me. I love you devotedly. A tall gawk like you shouldn't be the best dancer I've ever partnered. I've missed you. who's the Nordic god with the sweet Miss Talbot draped over him like an extra skin? He's just given me a very funny look.' 'I wouldn't be in the least surprised. greeted Mr and Mrs Bowden and then swept her off to dance.' he quoted with a mock-solemn air.' A bubble of laughter floated from her. but that dress is a shocker. you are an idiot. 'That was almost an old-fashioned glower I got. no. of course.' 'Theo Carrington. Janey.' she said somewhat primly. Listen. 'As for the other. but you are. 'Drop dead. Now. he kissed Janey between the eyes and said gaily. so I came steaming up here to my favourite girl.' she said happily.' He laughed. 'You know. Isn't it about time you emerged from the chrysalis?' Janey grinned.' Janey managed a laugh and a nonchalant tone of voice. Like thistledown on your feet—but a good. remarking. but don't depress my ego any further. You're fight. 'Oh?' He lifted his brows at her. love. Mr Carrington looks like a man who plays rough just for the hell of it. '"Your one and only jig-maker". satisfying armful as well. Sam!' . 'Sam.
'Mind you. became less inhibited. And Theo asked Janey to dance. 'Sam?' 'Is that his name? Sam who?' . but when some lucky chap lights a fire within you you'll set everyone's eyebrows climbing!' 'Thank you.' He sighed. Janey looked up astounded. there's that inferiority complex rearing its ugly head again. his features set in an expression of aloof tolerance which irked her unbearably. 'You seem happy how that your boy-friend is home?' he remarked in the tones of one who makes polite conversation. in the group of people Sam attracted. He laughed and without a pause began to ask about local happenings. quite happy at Sam's promise to have her home before one.'Oh boy. but he was a very good dancer and within a very few seconds she was as relaxed in his arms as she had been in Sam's. From then on the evening assumed a more pleasant aspect.' said Janey. With the slow departure of the older ones the nature of the evening changed. more spontaneous and considerably less formal. It did not make matters any easier to realise that she was being perfectly idiotic! At midnight her parents left. touched by his obvious desire to cheer her up and not believing a word of it. Sam was popular and had Janey been able to ignore the fact that Phyl Talbot and Theo seemed to be getting on like a house on fire she could almost have enjoyed herself. the way you look at the moment it would take a very determined man to work up much enthusiasm. Stiffly she matched her steps to his.
lowering her lashes to hide the uncertainty and pain.' 'So I see. Janey knew that she had no defence against this kind of attack and no way of retaliation. To her horror and complete shame tears sparkled in the clear amber of her eyes and she gave a most inelegant sniff. After all. not in this day of sophisticated ten-year-olds. no man is worth tears. but there was no softness in his narrowed glance as it swept her features. 'Don't cry. 'If you're going to analyse me I'd rather you kept your findings to yourself. Sam's a darling. 'What does this paragon do?' 'Medicine. aloud. He's —well. 'My dear innocent. I suppose you could call him a great friend.' 'My God. Theo said something under his breath and then.' 'Very estimable.' Anger and shock fought for mastery in her expression.'Sam Partingale.' . He's just done his pre-med year at Auckland University. 'As far as I can tell he's much nicer to me than any brother would be and not near as much trouble as a boy-friend. Jane.' he observed drily. the boy is besotted with you!' 'Rubbish!' 'Is this some kind of pose?' he asked unkindly. and he's not my boy-friend. 'No one could be as naive as you.' He smiled into her surprised face. I do have feelings.' She chuckled. Believe me. he was a perfect stranger who had no right to make comments about her. Anger won. you really are childish! That sort of repartee went out with dollybirds. 'Do you mind?' she retorted frostily.' He spoke cruelly as though he wanted to hurt.
That is. 'And when I'm angry.' 'That's unreasonable. The hand that held hers was relaxed yet she . the nearest person gets the backlash.' 'You obviously don't.' 'Surely you don't expect people to be reasonable. the line of his mouth cruel. diverting the subject a little because she did not know how to defend her romantic ideas of love and marriage in the face of such cynicism. She felt the powerful muscles of his shoulder move in the slightest of shrugs and found that an odd sort of tingle was running through her veins. and I hate it when people are cross with me. if you're the. sort who craves the security of marriage. her fingers. It felt like electricity pouring in through the contact points. the occasional brush of his knee against hers.' she retorted angrily.' 'I'm not cross with you. What's reasonable about one man loving one woman. believing that only with her he can find any sort of happiness? Any fool must know that all it takes to make a happy marriage is that tug of physical attraction to begin with and compatibility.' she said. 'Yes.'I'm not crying over you.' he countered with heavy sarcasm. I do. 'Do you believe in love-true-love between man and woman?' Janey flushed slightly. Tm just not used to being snarled at by anyone. I'm angry with myself.' He smiled with no humour. but refused to be intimidated by the taunt in his voice. the area of her waist where his hand lay. 'Why not?' 'Why not!' He lifted a mocking eyebrow at her. then.' she said firmly. 'There you are.
could feel the latent strength in the lean brown fingers. trying very hard to be objective. Janey had no doubt that she could waste quite a few hours imagining the effect Theo Carrington's mouth could have on her if he kissed her. becoming used to living without the comforts of familiarity? People are lazy.' 'Is that so bad?' She lifted her lashes to look directly at him. It makes life so much easier. If she kept her eyes level she could see the strong sweep of his jawline and. and she bit her lip. 'Would you be content with a marriage held together only by moments of passion and the realisation that any change would involve making a new start. Even in this backwoods paradise I imagine you wouldn't have to look very far to see marriages in trouble.' she agreed.' he said coolly. the firm contours of his mouth. They forge shackles for themselves and learn to love them. waiting for his answer to break the tension which held her nerves in thrall. and there must be many more jogging along only because of children or inertia. surely.' 'It depends on what you mean by happiness. 'Certainly not for security. too.' The dry note in his voice was very definite as he continued.' 'Well. of course there are. Some deep feminine instinct told her that that mouth provided a clue to his character. 'Any less secure institution it would be hard to find. It was her first experience of the havoc physical desire could play.' . for it was thin enough to be ruthless yet the bottom lip was disturbingly sensual and if she was stupid enough to let herself. Jane. 'But there are plenty of happy marriages. 'I mean—it is happiness of a sort. found him regarding her with an ironic smile which unnerved her.
as the others. 'You're a good dancer.' He smiled again.' 'I thought not. "You would want the ecstasy of a passionate love affair to continue on into marriage. I know it can't. then laughed. I mean. 'Lord. Incredibly the fine weather continued.suit and a pair of elegant high-heeled blue sandals which flattered her long foot and made her almost the same height as Sam. and when he spoke again it was to change the subject completely. dear?' her mother said doubtfully when she displayed them in triumph.'And therefore better than unhappiness? Would you like a marriage like that.' 'I enjoy it. Especially with you.' she finished somewhat lamely. Temperatures soared to unprecedented heights and the farms on the outskirts of Awakopu grew sere and brown under the merciless sky. Jane. Especially with you.' she murmured. I've never been married. what an idiot I am! I haven't any experience at all. Theo. almost too hot to sleep.' 'Not exactly. but surely the communion of everyday life would forge its own bonds. a long dress for evenings. Janey found the waistband of her shorts getting looser and spent an astronomical amount of her wages on new clothes.' He sounded amused and a little rueful as though she had hit home. a swim.' . her mind whispered. 'High heels make you so tall. Jane?' 'No. 'High heels. You don't live on the heights for ever. It became too hot to eat. just as strong as--as well. Have you?' 'Experience of marriage? No. and yet I ramble on.
I suppose. Penny had been flattered. but it was easy to see that he had a long way to go yet. Poor Geoff. Only a few days more. Janey. I say. Mum. who had loved Penny devotedly for six years. to be precise. 'Six feet tall. are you coming with us tonight? We're going floundering down past Luke's Point in the bay there. but even then she had been too sophisticated for someone as practical as Geoff. 'Five foot eight. so honest and worthy and steady.' They had all hoped that Geoff would have got over his love for Penny by this time..' Mrs Bowden's voice flattened the monosyllable as she looked across at Janey.' Paul said cheerfully.'She is tall. 'Six feet two.' That odd tightening of the nerves which Theo's name caused made Janey hesitate for a moment. 'I'm going to be as tall as Mr Carrington. He was growing at a rate which made his mother complain bitterly about the cost of new clothes for him. She had been fifteen and still at school and he was the manager of his father's farm. dear.' 'Hardly. Paul was. ever since the time he had set eyes on her. like an eel for all his size.' she said swiftly to hide the pause. 'When are you going?' 'Leaving at nine.' he went on..' I'm going to be six feet. Why?' 'I saw Geoff MacDonald up the village today and he asked me.' she murmured to herself 'I had hoped . 'Oh dear.' 'Oh. missing as always.' Janey aimed a punch at his shoulder. 'I could. when's Penny coming home?' Mrs Bowden looked up from slicing beans. 'The day before Christmas. .' Nobody could deny this.
she possessed that certain magnetism which made her very popular with the opposite sex and that her sister didn't. to do things and travel. and felt uncomfortable. Janey didn't think much of his chances. Anyway.' she had told Janey in a rare confidence. her light. Perhaps he was a relaxing change from the types she went out with in Auckland. Geoff furiously angry. as she should know. There's more to life than being the wife of a dairy farmer in a sleepy little town like Awakopu. with his possessiveness and his antiquated ideas about a woman's place being in the home. It was not Penny's fault that. crisp voice investing the word with condemnation. especially as Penny welcomed him with unfeigned pleasure.' she had complained. 'He thinks he owns me. Thoughtfully Janey picked up a stem of tuberoses and smelt their sensuous fragrance. but not nearly so much as her decision to become a lawyer. tuberoses. that perseverance would accomplish what devotion had failed to do. Geoff would make marriage prison for me.'He's so earnest. . Each holiday he took Penny out. I want to be someone. but as he seemed content with such a situation there was nothing anyone could do about it. Janey thought. And later he had wanted to marry her : her desire to go to university had upset him. apparently hoping. it looked now as if everything was going to be as it always was. 'but he'll just have to learn that I'm not his possession. with the six years of studying and the probability of never coming back.' Unfortunately it seemed that Geoff hadn't learnt yet. Penny defiant and determined. Janey could remember the outcome of that. They were beasts to grow. unconscious though it might be. But there was no doubt about the exotic scent. As she replaced the stem a grimace from Paul made her look up sharply. with faithful Geoff dogging Penny's footsteps all summer. having helped her mother to strip the corms that year and replant them. certain that there had been more than a little jealousy in such a thought.
' He sounded surprised and angry. glowering defiantly as his mother came swiftly around the breakfast bar into the room. 'No. then realised that it would be suspicious if she refused to go without her brother. If you want to go you'll have to go by yourself. Frowning. Janey picked up the vegetable knife and went on slicing the beans.' 'I can't see why not. You're just as good as Paul when it comes to catching fish.K.' . 'How long have you had it?' joy asked. 'O. Mum..' Janey hesitated. I'm quite sure that when he's had a sleep he'll be much better. She had just finished when her mother came back. none at all.'What's the matter?' she asked. 'Perhaps Theo won't want to go. 'How is he?' 'He's asleep. putting the back of her hand against his forehead. I think he has been overdoing things. 'It's just started. This heat! If it were February it couldn't be any hotter. dear.' she murmured. 'Sore stomach. don't fuss!' But his expression was twisted into something like anguish and he made no further protest when his mother bustled him off for a cool shower and then bed.' 'Any hope of him going flounder-fishing?' Joy shook her head.
To hide anything which might be revealed in her expression she turned her head away. there was laughter and music and as Theo started the engine of the runabout a girl. staring out at the green. 'Gidday.' 'Evening. so that it became cooler in spite of the close air between the banks of mangroves. It was still light. weatherbeaten fishing boat came quietly towards them.' Theo nodded. Her heart started to do funny things in her chest. so Janey sat quietly watching as Theo manoeuvred the boat down the channel. but the sun had lost most if its heat as it westered and the dew was falling lightly. He must have caught the disapproving look on her facer for he laughed suddenly. All manner of exotic perfumes floated on the still air from the gardens they passed and the jacaranda trees in the Warren gardens were great mounds of lilac-blue. young Bowden. it did not surprise Janey overmuch when it slowed. Red. 'Gidday. Theo. Someone was holding a party on one of the yachts in the basin. Janey noticed crossly.Certainly Theo didn't seem upset at all at the prospect of going without Paul. white teeth gleaming in the deep tan of his face and she capitulated. he looked like a pirate. When he arrived at the house shortly before nine he looked politely concerned at Paul's non-appearance. 'Good day?' . It was impossible to talk above the roar of the motor. hung over the stern of the yacht and blew him a kiss. then stopped and Red's flaming thatch emerged from the deckhouse. one strong arm holding the runabout steady against the side of the fishing boat. silhouetted against the sky. Red Thompson's rusty.brown water of the river as it creamed and was parted by the bow. Which he returned. Like that.' he said amiably. bikini-clad with a glass in her hand. Their passage whipped up a wind about them. asked the conventional questions and then hiked Janey off down to the wharf without further preamble.
There's a coupla' launches behind me been celebrating Christmas a bit early. 'Going for flatties?' 'Yes. let me know and I'll take you with me. It did not surprise Janey that Theo seemed to be on terms of friendship with Red.' His shrewd blue eyes took in the flounder spears along the side of the runabout. Red.' Theo grinned.' 'I'll do that.' 'See ya. involving his own view of what was masculine.' Red laughed noiselessly as he finished rolling his cigarette. though his qualifications for respect were pretty stringent. Red's cheerfully irreverent attitude towards mankind did not prevent him from respecting some few members of the human race.' 'Thought you might be. 'Thanks. 'That's where we're off to. They're weaving all over the place like drunken sailors. I hear. 'And if you want a day out after the big stuff.' 'Been getting good catches down Luke's Point way. drunk or sober. Apparently Theo lived up to Red's requirements. Janey thought. Too many blasted idiots tearing around in fizz boats for the fishing to be up to standard this time of year. nobody could call him effeminate! . not too bad.' Theo promised. then fished out a box of matches from his trouser pocket. Certainly. who was known as a wild man.' The note of the bigger boat's engine altered. Take care. Theo flicked the switch that changed their outboard from idling to full power and the two boats drew away from each other.'Yeah.
for a radio blared out a pop tune loud enough to set several shags on the wing. the muscles beneath his rolled-up shirt sleeves. the lithe economical grace with which. rather shaken. Fortunately they could be heard before they were seen. Janey and Theo saw a man jump from the bigger to the smaller. his eyes narrowed in contempt. She trusted Theo to cope. --. Janey watched somewhat apprehensively. just before Luke's Point jutted out into-the channel. he moved as if there was an immense amount of strength held in reserve. They met the launches they had been warned about around a sharp bend in the river.From beneath her lashes she watched him. noting the breadth of his shoulders. but she wanted to see what was happening. engines racing as they stirred up an immense cloud of muddy water. The wobble wasn't corrected. As they watched. And that really was all that happened. A yacht under motor rounded the bend and slowed down. swung the runabout across the channel towards the opposite bank and cut the engine. so that they travelled side by side up the channel. it seemed unfair that with this should go a keen incisive brain and the kind of personality which owed nothing to his looks or that animal magnetism. its crew tilted it as they rushed to the side to . a hard man to forget. a presumably full glass in his hand. This feat was greeted with loud cheers from both boats and an alarming wobble in the wake as the steersman apparently took his mind off what he was doing. Both launches were roped together fore and aft. then a scream as the bigger boat canted sideways in the shallow water. There was laughter. He possessed a splendid physical presence. He would be an easy man to fall in love with. Theo swore. the two roped-together launches headed towards the edge of the channel and grounded. 'Idiots!' Theo exclaimed.
disappointed and yet relieved. let's get out of here.' Theo said softly. Now. cuttingly contemptuous Theo who organised the evacuation of the smaller launch which had had its timbers stove in by the impact. by sheer force of character and by the blazing sarcasm of his tongue he had subdued the half-drunken crews of the launches to his will. Janey could see a very unpleasant scene developing and was glad to get away. the only light the huge stars and an old moon lying on its back in the western sky. Something had happened to its engine and it was unable to proceed. By now it was dark. who had been trying to quieten three hysterical children. shamed onlooker. young Jane. with the arrival of the law. only too thankful to leave the scene. too. Tonight she had seen an aspect of Theo's character which had horrified her even as she admired his competent handling. The subsequent hour was busy.K. accusations were being hurled and fended.. and dominated by Theo. 'We'd better head back home. He had been quite ruthless. . It had been Theo's presence which had prevented recriminations breaking out. headed slowly across the river towards the stranded launches. And Theo said laconically.of the situation. and after an hour the Awakopu police constable and the ranger arrived on the scene and took over.' Janey. but another launch heading up the river took it in tow. 'O. confused. nodded and left them to their parents. 'We'll go fishing for flounder another time. and had told the skipper of the bigger craft exactly what he thought of him in sentences which turned the man into a sullen. With the help of the yacht and its crew they managed to pull the bigger launch off the bank and clear the channel. an angry.' Janey nodded.stare and then it.
slapping one woman's face as she became hysterical. delivering groceries. the many facets of his character. she had meekly done just that. Soon Penny would be home and then it would be Christmas Day. like everyone else. who was peremptorily ordered to cope with three frightened children. Sea-tramp he might be. and caught more fish than they knew what to do with so Mrs Bowden froze them and stored them in the deep freeze. all three of them. would obey. and seeing that they drank it. Janey thought. calming them down. The weather remained hot and very still and the steady quick thump of the irrigation pumps was a constant background noise. Mrs Bowden hankered after a winter festival. she thought. . Janey worked long hours picking strawberries for the Christmas market and Theo was kept busy with the last run of haymaking. the house became hushed with secrets and anticipation. As for Janey Bowden. They went fishing for flounder the next night. and mused on the complexity of the man. threatening the owner of the smaller launch with a drubbing if he did not do as he was ordered and behaving like one of the more brutal pirates. making them cocoa on board the rescue yacht. Things began to get hectic. Christmas shopping finished. and even in the height of summer Christmas was special. Even Paul worked. Within seconds of his arrival on the scene he had enforced his will on the people on the stranded boats. The memory of it made her smile wrily. It seemed that Theo might command and she. but he was a man born to command and given the attributes to make command easy. Captain Bligh. but not Janey or Paul. even those who came to stare or help obeyed him without question as if he had the right to order them around.
to dinner. he's an educated man!' Her mother looked scandalised. very tangible. Theo was—very real. 'Apparently he and Phyl have been going out quite a bit together. She did not know how to go about enquiring from her mother without warning her of her daughter's interest in the subject. Surely not for him the legal efforts to avoid paying income tax. 'He seems to be settling in. but he said no.' Surprise glimmered in Janey's eyes. almost as if he plans to stay. 'I can't see him behind a counter.' 'What do you think he should do?' Janey asked. and I'm completely up. . Janey.' Mrs Bowden answered vaguely. I've sent off all the Christmas cards and bought all of the presents. so it came as a relief when Mrs Bowden murmured. It can't be^ good for him.' 'So I hear. I wonder if he's going to Talbots'?' 'Quite possibly. profit and loss. he was not neat and precise with a passion for accuracy and a delight in the abstract world of taxation and bank accounts. deductions and balance sheets. 'From something he said the other night your father realised that he's a qualified accountant. that's it.. can you? Or being content to drive a truck. He had hands that were strong and warm. Theo will be here for drinks before lunch on Christmas Day. An accountant! Somehow Theo did not fit her mental image of an accountant.to-date as far as the preparations go. I did ask him.' 'Goodness me. this shiftless way of life. I think it's such a pity he doesn't get a regular job. 'There. and eyes that were used to far distances.' Not even to herself would Janey admit disappointment.Only one thing bothered Janey.
as if he had needed only to lean over the side of Toroa and scoop a degree from the water.' Janey chuckled reminiscently. this place. Sit down.' 'I can remember. any more than she could imagine him behind the wheel of a truck for any length of time. It was odd how difficult he was to classify. so he said. Then. he told me he was only twenty when he took off for the wide blue yonder. so you couldn't see a thing. Sam. Sam came over that night.' said Mrs Bowden. 'This is nice. rundown eyesore which had had only its view and the lovely old trees to recommend it. rousing himself. Theo made his own place in life. He wasn't a great one for television. Janey grinned.'Apparently he didn't like the business. And grass head-high for a garden.' She looked around. looking around at the cool comfort of the terrace. cast in no common mould. You've made a terrific difference to it. .' 'Oh? Then he must have picked up an accountancy degree somewhere in his travels. 'Mum and Dad enjoy tonight's programme. As always he was polite to Mr and Mrs Bowden. It wasn't much when you bought it. accepted a beer and sat for several comfortable minutes in silence. surprised at the difference six years had made to the neglected. he avoided ticketing and putting in a niche.' She couldn't imagine him behind an accountant's desk. eager to tell her about the excitement of life in the freezing works. 'All little dark rooms and not one window overlooking the basin.' she remarked only half flippantly. 'but I'm no great watcher either.' Janey said cheerfully. you Bowdens. 'Anyway. 'Perhaps. but looked gratefully at Janey when she took him out on to the terrace.' He collapsed into a deep chair.
but she must have. As the sun sank slowly the skylarks ceased their trilling in the field at the back of the house and thrushes began to compete with the sparrows who chirped unceasingly in the eucalypt trees. Denied Janey's contribution toiler diet. 'Hell!' Sam exclaimed explosively. Shai arrived on Janey's shoulder. more exotic on the still air as they talked with the ease and long silences of old friends. It was interesting. the garden beds gay with flowers and the house was comfortable and convenient. she had taken to fishing for herself. She didn't ever give the impression she hated it. was quite convinced that it was only his barking night and morning which kept the harrier from getting up to terrible mischief in the basin. 'I've got to go.' . 'living here with carpenters and plumbers in permanent residence. even if blood did figure rather ^too prominently. the Hunts' Labrador. Hey. smelling strongly of fish. It grew almost dark and the scent of the star jasmine became stronger. Janey smiled. Tonight it was quite clear that she had been successful. Janey removed her but relented enough to put her in her lap where she went to sleep. and he made Janey laugh. lavender ears twitching as she dreamed. even gracious with its shutters and the additions which gave it symmetry. Poor Czar.' 'Um.' she mused.' Another comfortable silence. Frenzied barking from next door announced the evening swoop of the harrier hawk whose beat this was. Janey. and then Sam began to talk about his holiday job. how about coming to a barbecue with me on New Year's Eve? The Yacht Club one—Karen and Mark and their gang will all be there. 'It must have been hell for Mum.Now the lawns were smooth and green.
' He stopped. See you!' 'See you. wakening new desires and tensions deep within her. 'We've all been working so hard I haven't seen any of them for ages. I'm a good ten years older. she laughed shakily.' Her hand at her throat. 'She was a . Gripped by an intolerable urge to do—to do what? Janey sighed and then nearly jumped out of her skin.' said Janey. as from below a deep.' she echoed. I can't remember. And you're no Romeo. a lonely yet not unhappy sound. amused voice murmured: I've been waiting for my cue. Theo. While they talked dusk had fallen and the darkness was still and very quiet except for the barking of some dog three hills away. 'Not a one. 'How old was Juliet?' 'Fourteen—fifteen. picked a gardenia blossom from the tubbed plant at the head of the steps and dropped it lightly on to her hair.'O. 'Next year we'll all be working and I suppose some of us won't be able to get back.' 'Never mind. Any ideas of how to occupy all those shopping days till next Christmas. 'Juliet needed a moon to stimulate her into speech. leaning over the rail of the terrace as he ran across the lawn. but as Juliet you're a failure.' she responded forlornly.K..' Sam said reflectively. Janey?' 'No. Perhaps it was the quiet beauty of the night which set her tingling with unfulfilled longings.' he returned. moving to the steps.' 'This year will probably be the last one we'll all be here at Christmas.' 'No. you'll probably need time out to look around and find your direction. I must away.
They didn't know each other. insultingly casual finger.' she said.' 'You probably are perfectly correct. she retorted.passionate wench. Surely to love there must be knowledge. Suddenly it seemed important not to reveal just how affected she was by his nearness. it stands out so clearly.' he said coolly. 'I shouldn't imagine time would be as important as the degree of knowledge.''Sexual attraction? Why?' She was glad that he could not see the blush which his matter-of-fact recognition of what she had so carefully avoided saying had brought to her cheeks. With an elaborate pretence of . 'She was a very mature fourteen-year-old. but I doubt if it was love she felt for Romeo for all that. But I don't know anything about it. Something impelled her to continue.' The light touch of his hand made her shiver as if it had suddenly become cold. much younger than you. without thought. his nearness and the fact that he made no effort to move away from her. I've never been in love. Do you think you could love as completely as she did now you're eighteen?' 'I don't know. Jane. 'Well.' 'No?' He laughed softly. and touched her cheek with one lean. 'How long do you think you would have to know a man before you could love him? Three minutes? Three days? Or three years?' The mockery in his voice annoyed yet excited her. shaken by the intimacy of the gesture. Stiffly. 'No crush on a schoolmaster or violent screams at the sight of a pop star?' 'Not my thing.
nevertheless. holding the cat against her cheek as if to cool it. Sam who's just left ?' 'Sam? What about him?' A bored note cooled his voice.' she said firmly.carelessness she bent and lifted Shai. It was very important to convince him of this and without pausing she continued. for after a moment when the beating of . doesn't it?' he remarked. This close she could feel the leashed strength of his body against her. Sam and I. and the pulse in your throat wouldn't beat like a tattoo when a perfect stranger like me comes too close to you. But he must have been amusing himself with a naive young girl who perhaps intrigued him a little. 'If knowledge is essential to love. 'Just good friends? Not very original. yet when she moved as if to break away the muscles tightened and she could not move. smell the faint masculine scent of him. that shoots down your theory of Juliet's response to Romeo. calmly pulling her against him as if he had every right to hold her in his arms. you and Sam should be lovers instead of good friends. her gaze no higher than the deeper darkness which was his silhouette against the starlit sky.' 'The truth. Jane. to feel at all romantic about each other.' 'Well. Nervously her tongue touched her lips. 'I don't think I believe you.' His finger found the vulnerable hollow in her throat with unerring precision so that she could feel the frightened throbbing that was her heartbeat. and she had to fight with every resource at her command the desire to press herself against that hard strong form and accept whatever happened. His arm across her back was loose. A peculiar sensation caught her chest. 'We know each other too well. 'Totally unawakened. preventing her from breathing.' he said consideringly. What about the estimable.
to you. 'Thanks for the warning. I'll remember it.' said Joy. a few moments later Mrs Bowden came through the French doors and switched the light on. my dears.' . with a bravado she was far from feeling. and Theo Carrington was bending to pick up Shai. Always turn the light on when alone with a man in the summer darkness. she said lightly. Jane. Her daughter was leaning against the rail. 'Come on in.' Perhaps the sound of his voice had penetrated the chatter of the television set or possibly the programme which had held her parents in thrall had finished. twirling a gardenia flower in her fingers. Whatever the case. saying mockingly. The dew is heavy even at this time of the year.her heart threatened to deafen her he released her. 'I thought I heard you. Jasmine and gardenia have too erotic a perfume for anyone to be safe from their influence. 'Let that be a lesson.' And.
Then she embarked on a tour of the garden and house. I'm certain. thin cotton frock fitting her slender figure perfectly. 'Who's been helping you on to the road to adulthood?' 'No one. but her attention was caught by something else and Janey dropped quietly back out of sight. and she kissed everyone soundly. pale gold hair cut in the latest short style. you look almost grown-up. But her welcome was warm and unfeigned.' Penny's smile was speculative. Oddly enough Shai did not like Penny much. Secrets in those cat's eyes. 'We all have to grow up some time. 'Janey. It didn't seem fair. It was easy enough to . But Penny looked cool and beautifully groomed as she always did. Friends on their way further north delivered her in the middle of the hottest afternoon of the season so far. What have you been up to?' A very faint heat on her cheekbones made Janey acutely conscious of her sister's too intent glance.CHAPTER FOUR PENNY came home the day before Christmas. Janey thought resignedly. including Shai who was very half-hearted about it. you know. 'Nothing.' she sighed. exclaiming as if she had been away for years instead of the two months that had elapsed since her last visit.' she said lightly.' The older girl laughed. make-up immaculate.' 'Yes? I do know. touching the smooth grey trunk of the silk tree with loving fingers. 'It is lovely to be home again. When everyone else was busy mopping themselves up Penny always managed to look cool and dry. her clear golden skin smooth and matt.
The uneasy. Not. Of course her sister would find him interesting! Few women wouldn't. slightly breathless tones. but Penny was too percipient. Theo had forced her out of adolescence into the bewildering. terrifying world of the senses. before dinner. she had brains and personality and vivacity. Janey had been forced to view herself and her life with a new eye.behave in front of her parents as if everything was exactly the same. that Penny's arrival was going to bring in a new order of things. creepy sensation persisted. Quite often when she felt hi? glance on her she had-to struggle against meeting it squarely. Theo came up and when Janey saw the look that passed between Penny and him she knew exactly what had caused that premonition. for she was too inclined to blush and feel that unnerving shift of balance when she looked at him. When at last Theo left they sang carols and put out their stockings as they always did before retiring to bed. she had to admit. It seemed a better idea to avoid any comment by joining Paul. Janey felt sick envy and then even sicker shame. And the same applied to Theo. Now she was not so sure. Then. Now she had the strangest feeling that an era of her life was over. Penny was far more than just a pretty face and a desirably slim body. and she was angry with him for disturbing her placid life. for strange things had happened to her. r But as Janey undressed in her small. that his attitude towards her had changed. Janey would have mumbled an excuse and gone to bed. but never had Janey longed so much for an evening to end. And since the night Theo had amused himself by some very mild flirting. spartan bedroom with its one . unless it was that an element of watchfulness had entered into their relationship. but she knew that she would lie with her ears open listening for the deep exciting sound of Theo's voice and Penny's higher pitched. Janey had always felt that eighteen was far too young to fall in love. and she didn't like it. After dinner Janey and Paul played Scrabble on the floor behind the sofa while the adults talked.
Instead she stared around her. wondering at the reason for this visit. clad in a sleek. passionately ardent lips like yours either. examined her immaculate fingernails with some concentration and said deliberately. But Penny wasn't ready to divulge it just yet. You could be a tall young novice in that white gown with your hair around your shoulders. 'It's much bigger and you could spread a bit. after all. 'Perhaps it suits you. except that nuns have clear eyes and yours are hiding something.' Janey pulled her plain cotton nightgown over her head and stood looking gravely at her sister. I'll never live in it again. scandalised glance.' 'It looks like a cell. Someone's been kissing you. very sinuous jump suit which fitted her like a pale gold skin. idiot. it made her appear naked at first glance.' Janey gave a half-smile. of course. your eyebrows are just about through your hairline. In answer to her invitation Penny walked in.' Penny gurgled. 'As a matter of fact.' her sister retorted. A peal of laughter greeted Janey's swift. and I'd have hated to feel obliged to tell anyone the great fool 1 made of myself over my first love affair. It's all right. I thought I'd come to get some information on the fabulous buccaneer. 'Why don't you move into my room?' she asked. Almost exactly the same colour as her own skin.' She sat gracefully on the end of Janey's bed.Modigliani print above the bed there was a tap on the door. We've never been great ones for exchanging confidences. 'Can I sit down?' 'Yes.' . her brows pulled together over her delicate nose.' She grinned into Janey's alarmed expression. 'Nuns don't have tender. I'm not going to pry. 'I like my little room. 'Sweetie.
there's a good girl.' She laughed softly. . you. 'I think he's dangerous. however. in a voice which she strove desperately to keep normal. 'Yes. pretended to be thinking. eh?' Penny drummed her fingers on the counterpane. 'And to think I thought I might be bored these holidays! Tell me all about him. the strange lion-amber eyes beneath dark brows and lashes. smiling in a reminiscent way. that's all very well. 'Mystery man.' she said at last. Janey?' 'Me?' Janey took refuge in astonishment. which was almost nothing. It can be quite unnerving because you're such an innocent. but useful. as nice to the parents as you could wish. Janey told her what she knew of Theo.' So.' 'A buccaneer indeed. Only the truth would be acceptable to her sister. 'Well. 'He's been very kind to Paul and me.' Penny murmured. Her blue eyes surveyed the smooth oval of her sister's face. Theo. very clever. 'Yep. half to herself. but he gives me the impression that he's only humouring them. very sure of himself and very much a man. He—I feel he'd break all of the rules if he thought it necessary. Mr Theo Carrington. What do you think of him. the square chin and passionate mouth. Janey. It did not have to be the whole truth. who was far too astute not to recognise evasion when she heard it.' Janey frowned. You have a remarkable way of picking out the essentials of a character. who is tall and fair and handsome and very. 'How does he affect you?' she asked casually.'Theo?' Janey asked carefully.
Janey climbed into bed. Penny rose to her feet. the only barrier between her and the night being screen doors which kept out marauding mosquitoes and the large. Below.' she remarked cheerfully. she knew the location of the yacht even in the dark. he's very nice and he has a super smile. soft night moths. A morepork called from the eucalypts behind the house. 'Just now it seems to me the ideal age for a man. 'You'll find that thirty won't seem so old in a few years' time.' After she had gone Janey switched off her light and walked across to the French doors which led from her room on to the terrace. but he is thirty. he might be just what I need to keep me from sleeping the holidays away. I could see that he was interested in me. In summer she always slept with the doors wide open. but it seemed that every night Theo stayed up until one or two in the morning. apparently completely convinced by what Janey thought a very skilful piece of acting. 'Well—he's old. Biting her lip to stop a treacherous. useless flood of tears. Far away came the distant sweetness of a church bell. was answered by another little owl from across the basin. * .' she said after a moment. forcing herself to think this over. their small portholes squares and rounds of warm light against the dark backdrop of the opposite bank. Janey wondered what it was that most nights kept the dim circle of light glowing until long after midnight. It was very still. Even as she watched the lights on one of the other yachts went out. 'I mean.Janey shrugged. tolling for midnight service. Theo was in Toroa. the yachts swung gently on the oily waters of the basin.' Laughing softly.
and it was all genuine. as her children called them. There could be no midday dinner. could not hold a candle to Penny. held court. with Theo on her right hand. It had become a kind of tradition for the family to go to early service and then to have open house for their friends later in the morning. On her it achieved distinction. but still refused to fall in with custom. most families open their Christmas presents before breakfast. separated children over-stimulated by excitement and smiled and smiled and tried not to look at Penny who. both of which were very popular with their friends. of course. peasant fashion. With the thermometer soaring well into the eighties it was all one could do to force down a light lunch even though the dining room was the coolest room in the house.. . for many leave immediately after the meal for their annual holidays or the beach. shady terrace beside it. Every other woman T:here looked dowdy. One of the first improvements made to the property had been the building of a swimming pool and the siting of a wide. so the Bowdens did not open their gifts until after lunch. It was one thing which had earned the country Ian Bowden's profound disapproval. this wholesale closing down of most industries for three weeks.She sparkled. As the sun climbed higher into the sky Janey carried drinks to adults. for all her moneyed glossiness. and these were no exception. . yet all Penny wore was a simple long dress of creamy muslin with pale pink embroidery.In New Zealand . Christmas Day was no exception to this. but she had known all along that this would happen. Even Phyl Talbot. smiled yet again as she waved to a friend of her mother's across the pool. He was used to it now. Penny truly liked people and they reciprocated. her younger sister thought wistfully. Janey sighed. Joy had a considerable reputation for snacks. It hurt in a dull fashion to see Theo bend blond head to the sleek golden one. then picked up a plate of cold hors d'oeuvres and began to circulate with them.
'It's all right. aristocratic Shai anxiously purring as she curled herself about them.Some latent artistry came to her fingers so that a plate of pâté and ham with radishes.' Every instinct urged her to comply with his peremptory command. barely alive puppies with the elegant.' So she smiled and allowed herself to be urged down the path beside the house. Everyone was in high good spirits. the greens and reds of the Vegetables contrasting effectively with the rich colour of the pâté and the small black olives which were mingled with the peppers. prepared for one day to love everyone quite impartially beneath a sky of vivid blue and a hot. Janey felt a sudden horrible isolation from everyone. 'Where are we going?' she asked after a moment. tomatoes and cucumbers.' All very mysterious. summer sun. 'You look like the Lady of Shalott just after the mirror cracked. relaxing after the hectic rush before Christmas. Come with me. because he led her into the laundry. And then the mystery was solved. 'Wait and see. olives and peppers was a still life in itself. for in a cardboard box there were three small. coolly removing the tray from her hand and depositing it into a small boy's astonished grasp.' Theo said in her ear.' he said. 'I've spoken to your mother and she has agreed that you should come with me. but the years of insistence on good manners by her parents made her hesitate. 'I've been watching you and it seems to me that you can let someone else do some work. as though they inhabited some charmed world she could not enter. .
'They're big enough to drink from a bottle. 'They were on the sand below the wharf in an old sack. how could they be so cruel? Poor little things 1 Theo.' .' 'Oh!' Distress made her voice wobble as she dropped on her knees beside the squirming black bundles. she answered brightly. 'A heart as soft as butter. how will we feed them ?' He slanted her a smile which had something of mockery in it. Blinking. And they deserve to live after such a horrible attempt to kill them. but I should say this will cure him of his grief. 'Paul will help me. in fact. And you'll want one.' 'A dog won't be happy on Toroa. I think I can find a home for one.' she added as an afterthought. I can have them put down. Your mother promised them sanctuary too.' One strong finger tangled in a tendril of red-brown hair. 'Oh. 'Well.' he stated flatly. Our old dog was run over a few months ago and he was too upset to want another one. where did they come from?' 'Somebody dumped them. Theo. Do you think you can find homes for them?' The touch of his hand against her neck was like a fiery brand on her skin. People just don't think. but it will be a tedious business. 'Theo. Besides. I'm afraid.' 'Oh no!' she scrambled to her feet to face him. truly. one of the little things held protectively to her breast. pulling it gently as he smiled with quizzical amusement.'Puppies?' Janey shot a startled glance around the room in search of the mother. All of you. 'It'll be no trouble. Paul will have one. won't you? So that leaves only one. both of you.
as you couldn't defend yourself with that pup in the way. somewhat shocked face and laughed softly.' 'Oh. Jane. 'Other people travel with animals on board. you know. As he straightened up he looked into her startled.' she said brightly.' he murmured. Derision gleamed for a moment in the narrowed depths of his eyes. As she stood up she added. it was unfair.' 'Do I look lonely?' She managed a laugh. but I couldn't resist it. so that he couldn't see the great wash of colour which flooded her cheeks. I'll agree. 'Such frankness deserves a reward. you look completely self. Women know that no man is ever self-sufficient.'Yes. and thought to herself in some amazement that she was becoming a very accomplished actress. very sure of himself.' she said firmly.' 'I thought it came naturally. it will. then softened into laughter. 'Cheer up.' Theo grinned. bending to drop the pup back with its brothers. his handsome face suddenly closer in the confines of the small room. 'It's not the first time I've been kissed. but don't be ashamed of that. Why shouldn't you? It would be company for you. I don't mind. my dear.' he taunted unkindly.' 'You could have fooled me. and bent and kissed her very firmly on the corner of her mouth.sufficient. Someone—some lucky one—is going to have a most enjoyable time teaching you how to make love. but I refuse to believe you are. 'You have a lot to learn. 'No. It would be too great a blow to our collective ego if we thought you were.' she said before she could stop herself. .
'We take human relationships as well as biology. it's a basic instinct. after all. slid after a moment to her neck. trying to cover the mortification caused by her unruly tongue. in a frightening way. 'Well.' she retorted. For all the world as if she was some new and quite interesting insect on a pin. trying to look as cool and unconcerned as if this sort of conversation was very old hat to her instead of being new and rather exciting. 'Well. arms folded across his chest as he surveyed her with bland interest. striving to keep her gaze as steady as her voice in spite of the hot feeling along her cheekbones. A light flamed deep within his eyes like a spark kindled by some strong emotion. but she smiled. then dropped to the gentle swell of her breasts. of course they did. Janey was visited by the thought that he enjoyed shocking her with his bluntness and made up her mind that she would not be shocked. 'Did you?' he grinned as he leaned back against the door.' she returned sturdily. She made no protest as his hands reached for her shoulders.' 'What a very advanced curriculum!' he mocked. cupping it with extraordinary gentleness. 'Sex is. but there was no humour in the sweep of his glance as it travelled from her face to the smooth skin of her shoulders beneath the suddenly inadequate straps of her dress. you know. and when he bent his head and touched his lips to the vulnerable hollow at the base of her throat where her pulse beat softly in betrayal of her . A bubble in Janey's throat prevented her from breathing. Didn't they teach you the difference between mating and making love at that school of yours?' He sounded sardonic and very sure of himself. she thought resentfully.At his laughter her colour deepened again.
Janey's top lip clenched a moment on to her bottom one. by sheer luck.. she felt no fear. only an excitement which turned her bones to water and brought the breath fast through her lips.' she returned sweetly. . And when he straightened up she turned her face away from his so that he could not read the last lingering traces of the abandoned emotions he roused in her. 'When taken by surprise. but his fingers against her chin were hard. judging by the grim set of Theo's mouth it had happened against his better judgment and would not be repeated. She wanted to run her hands over the breadth of his shoulders. arrogantly. She knew exactly how he would look. He could not force her lashes up. devilishly in command of the situation with mockery and amusement in a hurtful combination.emotions.' she said worriedly. press herself down his lean hardness and feel his mouth crush hers. 'Do you usually go rigid when you're kissed?' he asked. forcing her face out into the open so that he could scrutinise her expression. then relaxed as she forced a smile. afraid that if she stirred it would break the spell he was weaving about her with his soft kisses against her throat. The little incident was over. almost painful. His mouth was warm and gentle and it made every nerve in her body tingle. Theo chuckled and released her. so she resolutely refused to look any further up than the top button of his shirt. managed to fall over the edge of the box—much to Shai's horror! 'We'll have to get a decent nest for them. but she made no movement. however. yes. turning away so that when Penny came into the room a moment later he was standing somewhat aloofly beside the washing machine while Janey was carefully replacing one of the puppies which had.
'Oh— puppies! What tiny little things!' The explanations gave Janey time to regain her equilibrium.. 'Oh. Acting as nursemaid to squirming little things is not my line.K.Which was just as well. you know. O. remember? You know darned well that that is the sensible thing to do. Penny!' ' Spreading her hands in mock surrender. A man of his age had no right to make love to someone who was no better than a schoolgirl! And that foolish schoolgirl had no right to allow herself to be beguiled by his experienced skill at the game into wanting things which had better be censored completely out of her mind! Her sister's mischievous expression as she came in only reinforced Janey's decision to push the whole thing completely to the back of her mind.' she remarked quietly. she thought angrily. vaguely aware that those few moments when his mouth had caressed her had altered something basic in her life. 'O. To her surprise Penny looked at them thoughtfully. 'Just don't rope me in too often to feed them. Janey. but I'll admit right now that there isn't a hope of persuading you or Paul. I'm the practical one.' Her beauty and the gaiety she wore around her like a cloak depressed Janey. 'You should have them put down.' she added as an afterthought. no. If Penny thought that she would be able to lead Theo around by the nose . 'What is all the mystery?' Penny demanded.K.. her older sister smiled at Theo. It was all she could do not to sigh heavily as Theo allowed himself to be led out of the room. With that sparkle of wickedness Penny looked beautiful and if it hurt to see the admiration in Theo's eyes then it was a salutary lesson. Or Mum. There was only one consolation. her beautiful eyes very wise.
then smiled ruefully and left them to their dreams. but when she looked hard at him. Towards lunchtime the guests began to drift off. for as one of the fifteen. not as exciting as Theo. calling out 'Merry Christmas. big and brown and dependable as always.' as they left. . Janey?' and sighed when Janey flushed and muttered a denial. made Janey realise that there were no doubt guests out there needing attention. 'Is that a gleam of something more than brotherly affection I see in our Sam's eyes. Scrambling to her feet. and wondered rather miserably why she didn't feel anything but calm affection for him. and the artificially blue water in the pool stilled and became calm. she realised that Sam was a very handsome boy. Sam was nice. who was not going to like Theo's advent on the scene and Penny's interest in him. and then he too left after promising to call back later in the day. Sam helped Paul and Janey feed the pups on warm milk from a trio of bottles dredged up by neighbours and friends. isn't he?' This aspect was one she hadn't really considered. she thought inadequately. but infinitely safer. And Penny. poor Geoff MacDonald in particular. Which left Theo. 'He's a real dish. And there lay the difference. while Theo was a man. she stood for a moment staring down at the now sleeping puppies as they cuddled against a softly purring Shai. who remarked smoothly. and so Janey too had a cavalier. And thinking of Geoff. As it happened Sam had arrived. He was little more than a boy. Sam didn't play tricks with her emotions and he knew how to make her laugh. she would soon find out her mistake.as she did most of her other men.year-old girls whispered enviously to Janey.
' 'Then Theo must be soft-hearted too. dedicated sister and the sea. They inhabited the same world. 'Otherwise he would have knocked them on the head without thinking a thing about it. you were born a romantic and in this day and age that's a dangerous thing to be. he's so responsible and steady. And you're far too soft-hearted. 'Why?' There came a general shout of laughter. You need looking after. you're such a dreamer. wide-eyed with interest.P. Janey snapped crustily.' Penny's trill of laughter expressed her complete disbelief. lighthearted banter. 'You could do much worse.' Avoiding the sardonic amusement which sparkled in Theo's glance. He's going to turn into a very good G. 'My godfathers.' One black brow lifted as Theo responded smoothly. what a nice thing to say! You make me sound like one of those demure Victorian misses who screamed if they saw a spider and put frilly pantaloons on piano legs!' 'Did they?' Paul asked. 'Janey. Look at those pups! Theo knew just who to bring them to. a world where laughter and wit were used to express emotions which were hidden behind a facade of worldliness. fugitive mischief warming the amber colour of her eyes into a flame. As they exchanged sophisticated.tramp. Janey watched quietly. and I imagine he'd make the kind of husband who would suit you perfectly. I refuse to give in to anyone in the softness stakes.'Love's young dream?' the older girl teased. her clever. Penny was revealing her interest in Theo. that's mine. but in such a way that neither would be embarrassed . realising how very attuned to each other they were. 'A heart of purest butter. one day. and then quite seriously. Janey.' Janey said sweetly. but when it had died down Penny returned to her subject with surprising insistence.
the side away from her sister. head as she leaned back in the big peacock chair. 'If you stay out in that sun too long you'll cook.. 'No. but excitement gave a gloss to the deep blue of her eyes. 'Yes. but an unfamiliar wariness stiffened the muscles of her face. Usually she kept complete silence. .' She stretched luxuriously and rearranged her slender legs to achieve the greatest exposure to the sun. He likes animals and young things and old people. but somewhere along the way he's developed a terrific resistance to women. and it shows. For her to discuss Theo and with Janey of all people was. he is. 'Is he?' Janey kept her voice non-committal. and closed her eyes. Theo Carrington is fascinating because he's absolutely uncaring. the fan of lace-patterned cane emphasised the delicate beauty of her features.by it.' Penny said cheerfully. Do you know why?' Janey turned her head to one side. She couldn't think why. And Theo . and his enigmatic expression gave nothing away. and her interested mother had to deduce how things were going from her moods. folding her hands behind her.' 'Of course you don't. 'He's quite the most fascinating man I've ever met. but he couldn't help but be impressed by Penny's loveliness and intelligence. Theo was in superb control of himself as always. Janey felt.' Penny said indulgently..? Well. indeed it seemed very unlike her assured older sister to make any comment on her emotional affairs at all. an ominous sign. she thought. She did not want any confidences from Penny. At the moment she looked almost complacent.
There had been a note of smugness in Penny's voice which had vied with something almost like pique. 'How do you know?' she murmured. I think perhaps people are born with that. Penny said nothing more about her plans for him.' In the days that followed. you know. but that deadpan attitude has been acquired over the years. with that "damn-your-eyes" smile. . In a way Janey was relieved. too hot but too lethargic to move into the shade of the jacaranda.' Penny resumed. I should say Theo has had a pretty varied love-life and both taken and given some hard knocks. even it he hides it pretty well. I think these holidays are going to be very. 'Partly intuition and partly experience. He is superb-looking. 'He's an intriguing man. Janey noticed that the porthole on Toroa still gleamed well into the small hours of the morning. a kind of sexual awareness which has . almost to herself. isn't he? He's got that terrific magnetism which has absolutely nothing to do with his looks. it seemed that whatever plans Penny had made for Theo's subjugation had come unstuck. for they saw very little of him beyond the sight of his car as it went up and down the road. and yet there's nothing that escapes him and he certainly appreciates feminine charms. That inexplicable ache which his presence brought her did not go away with his absence. very interesting. but at least it was dulled. 'I haven't wasted my time in Auckland.every woman in his vicinity on tenterhooks.Janey lay spreadeagled on the rug. however.' her sister retorted. 'Arrogant. but she went out several times with Geoff MacDonald and if she was not happy about things no one would have known.' Janey turned her head to look curiously at her sister. Somehow Janey got the impression that Penny was not quite as confident about dazzling Theo into submission as she would like to be.
especially in the late afternoon when the sun beat down with pitiless intensity. The sprinkler system had to be turned on so that the wilting garden could be refreshed. 'Last year they got rained out between Christmas and New Year and blamed us for it. He had made a huge chart and was plotting the temperature every three hours on a graph in the hall. Sandy Bay was a small scoop of white-gold sand beneath high volcanic bluffs which were smothered in rounded canopies of the pohutukawa trees.' Joy said quietly.' said Joy. 'Ian. protesting about the heat as they would have complained about rain or cold. setting aside the embroidery she had been working on for the last ten years.Meanwhile the weather continued hot and still.' In the end they all went down except Penny. who wanted to wash her hair. Paul was happy. More visitors poured into Awakopu. 'Never satisfied. 'Not feeling too good. Janey decided that she was quite tanned enough and began applying sunscreen to arms and legs whenever she wait out into the sun. Her husband shot her a swift glance from beneath frowning brows. Joy was right. and I believe the pohutukawas this year are superb.' 'It is wearing. let's go down to Sandy Bay. my dear?' 'I think I'm getting more accustomed to it. for Joy was finding the heat intolerable. If there's any breeze we should catch it there. this year the bluffs were crimson and . Now that it's fine they complain just the same.makers. She watched her mother with an anxious eye. like Janey he was not upset by the sun and welcomed each new extreme of temperature with joy.' Ian Bowden grumbled after he had been kept waiting at the barber's by a crowd of holiday.
and we've found a mother for them. She would be terrified if Theo ever . but he too took one look at his hero's face and closed his mouth quite firmly. The Sinclairs' bitch adopted them and she and Shai take turns in looking after them.scarlet against the dazzle of the sky and the waters at their base were stained rust-red by the fallen flowers. they are.' he called. 'Hullo.' Paul told him. A swift shiver touched Janey's skin. 'Who?' demanded Paul eagerly. very casual in shorts and nothing else.' Theo told him. The road to the beach was a private one. for momentarily the expression on Theo's face was frightening in its cruelty. 'They have their eyes open now. Because of its isolation the beach was quite deserted when the Bow. 'You can be sure it won't happen again. mitigating the rebuff by clapping him on the shoulder. Fortunately he and Iari were golfing partners. 'Actually. I say.dens pulled up under the shade of another pohutukawa tree. I found the person who dumped them.' Paul opened his mouth to say something else^ probably to ask what Theo had done to prevent any recurrence of the dumping. 'No business of yours. But Theo Carrington was just coming down one of the bluffs. so it was considered politic to cultivate the friendship of the landowner over whose land the track wound. we think they might be Labradors!' 'Do you?' Theo's expression of amusement died. 'How are the pups?' 'Growing plenty.' 'Oh!' Janey couldn't prevent the exclamation. Theo. full of enthusiasm. pulling a shirt down from the branch of a tree and draping it over his shoulder.
covering up for the fact that she felt as though she was in a fast-falling lift and had left her stomach behind her.looked at her like that. 'But shouldn't you wear a hat?' 'She doesn't need to. crisp grass to where their parents waited she felt a tingle of anticipation race through her veins.' But Janey couldn't find her form.' he said. 'You don't feel slippery. his slow. Janey. 'You can do better than that. Beat that. allowing his gaze to assess quite openly her bare legs and arms and the slender tallness of her body clad only in denim shorts and a scanty suntop. . she thought. She may not look it.' he said coolly. Close to. and gave up in disgust when Theo's stone skipped too many times to count and Paul managed eight times.' Janey grinned.' Paul skipped a flat stone out to sea.' Well-timed.' Paul observed. his best to date. and she could only feel pity for whoever it was who had dumped the puppies. 'In fact. 'She's smothered in some stuff that stops the ultra-violet rays coming through. 'Four times. try again. mocking smile softening the cruel contours of his mouth. Janey. conscious of the flush the compliment had brought to her cheeks and glad of the opportunity to slip from beneath Theo's arm while she found a stone. when he dropped an arm across her shoulders and walked with them back along the short. Then he turned and looked directly at her. an expression of smug satisfaction on his face as he crowed. Theo was overpowering. if I were feeling in a poetic mood I would say your skin is like warm silk. but she's slippery. 'Twice!' Paul exclaimed when she had spun. 'You look very pretty.
the soft sand spurting at his heels as he raced away. by me. she said. a lithe brown figure in the sun. 'Why? Does it annoy you?' 'No. T was giving you an out.' Janey looked at Theo. 'Paul. I'll race you to the point and back.' He grinned. and he'll crow unmercifully if he beats you. not really.' 'Good. a thread of amusement colouring the deep tones. watching him. 'My God.' He took off along the beach. 'It's your figure. 'In fact.' 'Are you always so confident about everything?' He chuckled. T hope you can swim.' said Theo. but if you don't want to take it that's O.K. 'What energy! Janey was feeling a little drained of strength. 'I doubt if he'll beat me. Striving rather desperately to ignore the delicious vibration in her nerve ends that his nearness gave her.' .'You must be growing up. I think.' 'I can swim. Paul is good. I think their balance must be altered. met the pure amusement in his glance with answering laughter and retorted briskly. Once girls stop being flat-chested they can't throw for peanuts.' she answered honestly. if you believe that you'll believe anything. are you going swimming?' 'Yes.' Paul said consolingly. And I don't hold out much hope for success in medicine for you. Theo. for Theo had repositioned his arm across her shoulders and it felt as though it belonged there. I say. I think I envy you.' he said. or something.
for her parents had almost reached them. you have a good body and skin that's eminently kissable. Your sister isn't the only attractive Bowden daughter.' 'Who's teasing? There you go again.' she snapped. but it was too late to make any rejoinder. staring up at him in bewilderment. she would be an accomplished enough actress to take the Old Vic by storm! . all of which is quite reason enough for me to find you desirable. 'Let that be a lesson to you. 'I don't. 'I like you like this. Acutely conscious of her flushed face. 'Is it so strange that I should enjoy embracing you? You're attractive. underselling yourself.'Where did you get that inferiority complex? At first I thought it must have been caused by your parents' treatment of you. she thought hollowly as she listened to him charming her parents into a complete lulling of suspicions.' Janey disliked the calm.' Janey lifted her head proudly at the irony of his last comment. Janey met her mother's glance of mild surprise with what she hoped was cheerful unconcern. but they obviously love you. His sharpened gaze took in the puzzlement of her expression rested for a moment on the soft lips and became as keen as a scalpel.' he said quietly.' The cool arrogance irritated her. only to be held-quite firmly where she was by the tightening of his hand against her upper arm. 'Hey!' she exclaimed. If Theo stayed much longer in the district. 'I hate being teased.' As he urged her on towards her parents he asked. you know. analytical tone of his voice and stiffened away from him. When they did Theo dropped his arm quite naturally as he greeted them.
and it was quite definitely leaving. 'I told them I'd bring you home as you appeared to be enjoying yourself. 'Thank you. Feeling for all the world like someone who has suffered a grievous betrayal.' 'Just like a parcel.the gods were kind and rain came later in the season. The bay was sheltered so that the water lapped softly against the beach. before she twisted and dived beneath the water.' She caught a fleeting glimpse of dark brows drawn together in a frown. Of the Bowdens not only Paul was a good swimmer. barely felt breeze and the only noise was the occasional wild call of a seagull as it drifted overhead.' Theo said from behind her.' she returned in a tight hard voice. Turning so that she could not see the man who swam like a dolphin towards her. others hoped that the plentiful hay crop would see them through if. 'Your parents have gone to visit the Sinclairs. it was their car. and wind blew except a slight. Janey gazed inland at the biscuit-coloured hills of the farm and beyond them the grape-blue of the coastal range to the south. and the family were waving cheerfully from the windows as it headed up the track. but these coastal lands were exposed to the winds and dried out so quickly that it must be heartbreaking to farm them in a season like this. Farmers were already talking of a bad drought. The land was dry and sere. It was very quiet after the car had gone.CHAPTER FIVE JANEY was in the water when the sound of the car engine made her shade her eyes with her hand as she stared shorewards. Inland it was not quite so bad. she waited in the warm water while Theo dived in from a rock and used his powerful crawl to head across to where she waited. Some were making plans to shift their cattle to the south where the rains had been more regular. Yes. Perhaps because Theo had not expected the suddenness of her action he made no .
attempt for a moment to follow her. Now without pausing to consider the consequences she struck out. but he stuck his foot between her ankles and she went sprawling on to her side in the grass. His grip on her wrists had loosened. she tried to duck past him. so stop behaving like a four-year-old having a tantrum!' To be accused of childishness when the turmoil within her was painfully adult was more than she could bear. his lean handsome face filled with the purposeful predatory excitement of the hunter. his eyes alight with anger—and something else. connecting with considerable force on the smooth wet skin of his shoulder. forgetful for the moment that she was not indulging in the rough and tumble she used to enjoy with Paul. She knew that he was following. pinning both wrists against the rough bark above her head. swimming with the sinuous litheness of someone who is a natural at the sport. . horrified. 'You might have asked! For all you knew I might have wanted to see the Sinclairs. and when he did she was a long way ahead. of course.' Janey snapped. 'Why? Your parents said that you had nothing in common with them. Then. 'Nothing. adding with an anger she knew to be false. 'What is this?' he demanded. 'What the devil-—!' he exclaimed as she yelped and pushed hard against his leg. She was tiring as her feet hit the shallows and before she had had time to get much further than the first big tree he had caught her. flinging her around against the trunk. .' His teeth snapped shut in a savage smile. but something reckless forced her to put every last atom of strength she possessed into hep-efforts.
and by God you're going to get what you. and kissed her again. She knew that she would rather be kissed by Theo in anger than by anyone else with love. deserve!' One hand came up and caught the wet tail of her hair. ...Theo.' she choked. mesmerised by the leaping flames deep within his eyes. smiling in a way which made her realise just how very stupid she had been. 'Please. 'Please . 'Oh no. tightening with cruel insistence as she tried to pull away. and when Janey felt herself relaxing into a languor as unexpected as it was delightful. His mouth was hard and demanding. willing him to continue. It didn't matter. was not Paul. however. felt the faint rasp of his sea-wet cheek across her face and wondered at the banked tension in him. using all of his experience to blot out the memory of the assault which had preceded it. Real fear stirred to life within Janey as she realised that she had woken a demon which had lain slumbering beneath Theo's urbane exterior.' he ground viciously. The blazing eyes and that set. as his mouth touched each eyelid and moved to the hollow of her throat. a prolonged plundering of her mouth until she cried out at the pain of it and tried to arch away from him. Only it wasn't a kiss. 'you asked for this. she thought hazily. it was an assault. perhaps he was still furious with her. she closed her eyes. She could feel the heat-of his body through the thin material of her bathing suit.' he mocked. Perhaps. savage smile turned hip into an enemy. With her teeth catching on her bottom lip she tried to evade him. Instead of falling he came down beside her like an avenging angel. but his arms pulled her under him and the green of the leaves above was blotted out by his face and the violence of his kiss. and the rigid strength of his arms behind her back was an indication of this. yet the cruelty had fled from it.
that set. as if the words meant nothing to him compared to the sensations he was experiencing.--' He stopped her stammering with his mouth. was lost in the sound of him. my dear. Jane. . 'Theo?' she whispered. It's time someone taught you that. she could do no more than trust him Unreservedly. 'No. so that when he stripped the strap from her shoulder she did not prevent him. When he spoke it was almost dreamily. 'Too late. pressing her into the soft sandy soil. nor did she protest when his mouth moved down from her throat to come to rest against the salt-cooled skin of her breasts. Jane. impersonal movement of his lips which had so frightened her before. he said quietly.' Slowly she opened her eyes. 'Even innocent provocation is dangerous. and the knowledge made her eyes fly open in astonishment and a resurgence of fear.As if in answer to the thoughts that flitted through her brain he lowered himself on to her. He smiled down into her face. the scent and feel of him. Jane. Now shut up. stroking the smooth skin across the taut sea-strengthened muscles of his back. It seemed that she drowned in him. of desires unfulfilled. one hand cupping the soft swell of her breast. and yet when she was lying so close to him that they seemed part of each other he would not accept what she so unreservedly offered him. and said softly. No.' 'Theo—I. Provocation always brings its own reward. And then she knew that the tension she felt within him was not anger but desire. A long time later when it seemed that she must die of longing. met the unnerving glitter of eyes only a few inches from hers.' Lost in a world of the senses where her very innocence endangered her.
' He smiled. I feel enough of a heel as it is. 'So don't look at me with those hot amber eyes as though I've wounded you to the death. If he had had fewer .' 'I think you might have. There's a world of difference between the tender folly called love and what we have just shared. that he should be so clumsy. which is desire.' A coldness came seeping in through the pores of Janey's skin. believe me. and tipped her chin up so that he could drop a kiss on her mouth. Of course he didn't! He was a sophisticated. experienced man and she had had the misfortune to arouse his predatory instincts with her stupid antics. girl. pulling her up with him. but like all men I'd rather have my fun and not pay too heavily for it. who had up until now been intelligent and too perceptive. she had had the sense to fall for a man of some honour. a twisted.making meant that he reciprocated her feelings. but I'm not going to lose it completely. Tears from you would be too high a price. At least.-look at me!' He sat up. pure and simple. I'm sorry. I didn't realise how damned inexperienced you are.'Jane. ironic movement of his mouth.' 'Your fun?' It seemed incredible to her that he should be saying this. Jane. a pride which would not allow her to admit that she had fallen head over heels in love with him and thought that his love. 'Jane. waited as she fumbled with the straps of her bathing suit and then said harshly. Jane. are you listening?' By now she had regained self-control and with it a pride she had never known she possessed.' she whispered. Theo. she thought drearily. and so had suffered the consequences. you go to my head like young wine. 'Love's sweet sting? I doubt it. He was still holding her close against him but she shivered and he said roughly. 'I can't.
for Theo had penetrating eyes and just now they were fixed on to her face with something like compassion in them. 'I must admit that I hadn't realised that—well. But for the moment she must salvage what self.' She finished with a half laugh and was rewarded by the disappearance of that horrible solicitude from his eyes and its replacement by mockery and something else she could not discern. only pity and a fierce determination not to find herself ever in a similar situation. extending a hand to pull her up with him. For a long moment their eyes caught and clung. Janey Bowden! Never again would she feel contempt for those girls who gave in to the demands of their lovers. I may be ignorant.respect she could. but I'm not stupid. Until then—and unless you want to gain experience on the way—don't set out to provoke. and got to his feet.scruples he could have taken her without any resistance from her—so much for morals and standards and principles. you'll knock come man off his perch completely. fool that you are. Out of the door they flew at the first touch of a man's hand! Fool. hers as veiled as his. I'm listening. Few men can resist it. It was this humiliating concern which made her sit up straight. her head held high. 'Well.' he drawled. she thought savagely.' With bent head she tried to hide the colour that flooded her cheeks as she went on shakily.' . Calmly she answered. 'Yes. that it was so easy to —to forget everything my mother did tell me. and it was going to be hard. that's settled. and my mother has told me a few of the facts of life. and then he smiled and kissed her cheek and said as he straightened up : 'In a few years' time. but you don't have to explain. Jane. then.
but what he said made her blush even more fierily. Thank you. Janey had the bleak feeling that that small distance could have been as far as to the moon and back for all that Theo cared.The deep humiliation she felt forced her to say lightly. girl.' she admitted. Theo. not all men are so weak-willed that they lose control the minute a woman responds. hoping that this conversation would soon be overhand yet feeling that for pride's sake he must be told that she had not misinterpreted the passion he had shown. 'For what?' 'For not --' she flushed again.' As if in accord they had turned and were walking back towards where his car was parked beneath one of the big trees. 'Good God. even though I forgot myself today and treated you like a woman. so stop being so—so --' 'For not seducing you?' Janey knew that she should feel grateful because he took pity on her and interrupted before her embarrassment tongue-tied her completely. adding with the hint of a taunt in his tones.' . Schoolgirls are not my meat. If ever you provoke me again I'll turn you over my knee and spank you. 'And others may not be so fully in control of themselves as you are. About six inches of air separated their shoulders. When he answered her she knew that she was right. at least until you know how to read a situation. but went on gamely '—you know perfectly well why. 'Although it might pay to act as if they are. so you needn't flinch away from me as though I'm going to drag you off to the nearest bed. for his voice was quite impersonal.' he said curtly. With me you're quite safe. 'Well—yes.
and as they watched the sleek. but it was beautiful. he would never know that those easily-forgotten-by-him minutes had given Janey a confidence she would never lose. Penny could have him if she wanted to. staring in the darkness at that jeering circle of light. It was so that she could recall the fire in Theo's eyes as he kissed her. Now. her type of thing at all. He had felt a heel afterwards. grey smiling things humping through the water the conversation lapsed and died and it was not until just before she went to sleep that night that Janey allowed herself to think again of what had happened. Janey had thought. as no doubt he was. a long very pale amber satin thing which left almost nothing to the imagination with its neckline plunging to just above her slender waist. A sick emptiness in the pit of her stomach and an ache at the back of her throat prevented her from speaking. At that moment she decided she hated him. Janey had on the nightgown which was Penny's Christmas present for her. and she had not known why she wanted to wear it tonight. the passion and tenderness which might have been fleeting but had been real. although a faint rustle in the very tips of the eucalyptus trees high on the hill behind them augured well for tomorrow's regatta. It was very still. he had been stirred by her physical presence and he had wanted her. . perhaps that faint sound was the forerunner of one. For a little while Theo had thought her beautiful. He and the other sailors would be happy if there a brisk breeze. she knew.He sounded exasperated and bored with the whole conversation. though Janey was sure that even her sophisticated sister would find Theo Carrington a very tough nut to crack. It was not. That mocking porthole gleamed in the dark of the basin sending its oily shimmer of reflection a little way across the smooth water. but that pride she had dredged up from somewhere kept her head high. Fortunately dolphins came into the bay then. Sam had been over to make the final arrangements and was mourning the total lack of wind. The nightgown helped her recall a little of the magic his touch had worked on her.
it's only for an hour and then we . those without water transport of any kind had swimming races and the big launches had the choice of racing or entering a fishing contest. Janey and Sam arrived at nine in the morning. Janey felt the slow tears begin to form in her aching eyes. she whispered quietly into the darkness. all of which had their own races. Which explained in part why the New Year's Eve Regatta was always a great success. Biting her lip. the point on which it stood and the jetty in front of it as well as the half circle of bay to one side. immediately Sam was dragged protesting on to the Committee boat and Janey found herself behind the counter in the small shop at the side of the building selling cold soft drinks and iced lollies with Karen Moore. and knew even as she said it that it probably was not true love. 'Can't you remember?' Karen grinned and pushed a riotous black curl back from her forehead. Yet an adolescent crush. and as it possessed a large clubhouse at the head of a bay where the anchorage was extremely safe in most weather. So the Yacht Club. and it was a long time before she finally fell asleep.I love him. The Yacht Club at Awakopu was small but vigorous. was just as real as the pangs of the great passions. 'How can they drink orange fizz at this hour of the morning?' Janey wondered aloud. were a seething mass of activity all day. and even the wooded hills behind echoed to the yells and screams of those determined small boys who turned their backs on the sea to play wars and cowboys and Indians there. 'Never mind. The keelers raced after offloading sons and daughters in dinghies and small yachts. a school friend who worked now in the local solicitor's office. if that was what it was. it was popular with visiting yachtsmen.
Nevertheless Janey thought she did look rather nice. She kept moaning. Janey. Karen was small and inclined to plumpness and she had an inordinate yearning to be tall and slim. and with it she wore a cotton knit top in the gold of the skirt. Mum nearly had a seizure. so long skirts or caftans. the smell of chops and sausages and steak grilling over charcoal and the clink of glasses as both visitors and locals had a drink before dinner. but by seven o'clock they would be back. but one wore one's smartest beach outfit and the barbecue. you know. were usually Worn.get relieved. leaving the visitors to shower in the Club's washrooms. but Blue Wentworth came down and had a look this morning and in his capacity as the Fire Chief or whatever he is said it would be O. 'The fire risk is very high. Most of the locals would drift off in ones or twos towards the evening. New Year's Eve at the Yacht Club was as informal as any occasion could be. uncrushable and easily washed but elegant. Because she felt attractive she knew that wonderful lift of morale which. Wives and daughters followed suit. but it set off her tan nicely.' Janey smiled. It was a brief tube with two straps over the shoulders. so her compliments could not be taken too seriously. "We'll have to have the barbecues. and as a special treat she had carefully varnished her toenails pale pink. and beneath the skirt she wore navy shorts for when the sun became too hot to bother with a skirt. Imagine cooking for .K. always followed by a dance.' Karen told her. in the evening. You look nice. Leather thongs flattered her feet and slender tanned legs. All long legs and tailored. was seized on by the visiting yachtsmen as an occasion to dress a little more formally than their uniform of bathing shorts and a peaked cap. like a model. With all this in mind Janey had chosen a wraparound skirt of jungle-print cotton which Penny had made for herself but disliked. there would be barbecues glowing on the beach. was the reason why women spent so much time trying to look attractive! 'The Fire Brigade were a bit wary of the fires this year. she concluded.
'Hey. and nodded towards her father who happened to be this year's Commodore. The bay beckoned. He really is something. That's four years ago! I'd feel naked without him. a few minutes before their hour's stint at the counter was up. keeping her eyes averted. and the hard nagging pain in her heart seemed to ease a little. eh?' Karen sounded very worldly. there's that chap who's going with the elegant Miss Phylippa Talbot.' For some reason this struck them both as funny. Janey. glittering.' Janey answered. Janey's giggle blended with Karen's and she felt a return of schoolgirlish camaraderie. it seemed. envy in every words 'If I wore those clothes I'd look plump and sweet. 'Mum is always at me to go out with other boys. Karen remarked. isn't he? Isn't he a friend of your parents? I wonder if he's going to race with the keelers?' The answer to all of her questions was in the affirmative. 'He doesn't seem to go with anyone. 'So Dad organised vast quantities of plastic buckets just in case. Not steadily. filled with life and colour and movement. handing out a cone and the change to a small boy. Mark and I started to go together when I was fourteen and he was a couple of years older. for the Toroa had slipped into the bay and with Theo was Penny looking like something out of Vogue in shorts and a simple blouse. but she looks as if she has a couple of million stashed away in the bank and doesn't give a hoot about it. 'How does she do it?' Karen asked.hundreds on the stoves in the Club kitchen!"' She chuckled infectiously.' . They're all stacked up behind the dinghy lockers.' 'Plays the field. Only to return when. but honestly. Is she going with Mr Carrington?' 'Not really.
Karen and her Mark were one of those rare couples who recognised their dream in each other and refused to settle for anyone else. but one glance at the bronze mask of Theo's face made her decision for her. Janey thought it unlikely anyone had realised that she most emphatically didn't want to go with Theo. leaving Mark almost speechless at his good luck. In a few years they would marry and their life together would be as smooth and happy as their courtship.' she responded cheerfully. for it was mockery pure and simple. I've offered to help off and on in the shop. that the thought of two hours or so alone with him on . He's mourning because he's just sold his fourteen-footer and hasn't bought a new one yet. Theo? Mark Sorenson is a sailor and would love to go with you.' she said. 'I'd love to. 'and he wants someone to tell him where the reefs and rocks are between the islands so that he doesn't have to peer at a chart all the time.Janey smiled. Janey smiled.' Turning swiftly. 'but I can't. Janey? You've sailed over the course hundreds of. she called. 'Mark! Over here!' Within a few moments it was organised. For a moment She envied her companion fiercely. The sight of Theo and Penny together—happily together—was bitter pain. How about you. for Karen would never know the anguish which was now becoming a settled part of Janey's existence. even more painful was the smile that he gave her when they came face to face a few minutes later. 'Theo's racing. and his eyes were inscrutable above that taunting mouth. times.' Janey's heart gave a startling lurch in her breast. Why not take Mark. Hoping that the first involuntary shiver she had given had passed unnoticed. Or that she did. It seemed impossible that only yesterday those eyes had been glazed with passion and that mouth had softened into tenderness against hers. exchanged greetings and was making her escape when Penny called her back.
' 'Another time. Jay? You look a trifle flushed. Perhaps the person she most wished to deceive was not deceived at all. 'I'd go around the world in her. Pity you had to do duty on the Committee boat. You know.' a flushed and excited Mark told Karen and Janey and Sam after the race. can that guy sail! He knows exactly what she'll do and he pushes her to her limits. perhaps. for the smile he gave her as they parted was narrow and without humour. but that was all. Sam.' The boys went off to the bar and Karen urged. It's so terribly hot here in the sun. 'Yes.Toroa would be pain and pleasure in equal proportions. I'd like a can of lemonade.' 'The sun. and reason won. Nevertheless the day lost some of its glitter and freshness for Janey. If he thought that she was afraid of him it might annoy him. Perhaps he thought that she no longer trusted him. That parting smile seemed burned on her memory. Toroa didn't cross the finishing line first. but won on handicap after a close-fought battle with two other yachts. He wouldn't be hurt by any emotion she might feel for him. Reason warred with longing. 'Let's go and sit under one of the trees. with . 'She's well-found and boy. which revealed that Theo was a competent tactician as well as an extremely good sailor. If she saw too much of him she would only be feeding this attraction and letting herself in for more pain than she cared to consider. If she closed her eyes against the glare she could see him looking at her with something like contempt and that narrow taunting smile as if she had gone down quite dramatically in his estimation. Janey fought an absurd desire to hurry after him and offer to go to Mark's place.' Sam dropped his arm around Janey's shoulders and grinned down at her. You'd have enjoyed a race with him.' she said swiftly. 'Can I get you a drink.
Penny won't have any difficulty. swooping down to give the sightseers it carried a good view of the bay. Fortunately an amphibian plane flew overhead. Mr Carrington looks too clever and quick for comfort. they're both super-looking. don't you think? Jay.' she managed to say after a moment. for Karen was an acute observer with considerable interest in her fellow humans.' Janey wasn't-surprised by her companion's shrewd assessment of Theo's character. 'Too exciting for me. as Janey knew only too well. though. He's an unknown quantity. Penny with one slender hand on his arm. wondering rather desperately how to change the subject before Karen drew her own conclusions about Janey's silence. he smiling down at her as though she was the sum total of all his interests. had his share of masculine awareness. 'They look good together. Theo didn't give anything away. and very. Not that one could gain much from his expression. And then the boys came back . one I wouldn't know how to cope with.daylight saving it gets hotter and hotter until seven o'clock at night. Too much interest. your sister seems to have made quite a hit with the luscious Mr Carrington. Mind you. she's always known just how to behave with men. aren't they? Penny's like a model and Mr Carrington looks like one of the nicer buccaneers. as her lashes drooped to cover the bleak' despair. Look at them !' It was the last thing Janey wanted to do. And Theo. very assured. but it would take a man with no masculine initiative at all to resist the charming picture Jenny made. 'Urn. dependable. but for form's sake she lifted her lashes and in one swift glance took in Penny and Theo talking together on the wharf.' Karen smiled at Janey. Janey thought now. all virile and exciting. easy to read people. I like nice. don't they. like my Mark. and as that disappeared over the hills one of the smaller yachts capsized spectacularly in an errant puff of wind.
After that it seemed that everywhere she turned she saw Theo and Penny obviously enjoying each other's company. does it? You think you can take up where you left off. some barely heard intonation made her look at him with swift surprise. quite easy to pretend that all was well when your heart was slowly twisting within you. but it doesn't work. of course. 'Why?' 'Well.' Something in the way he spoke. Certainly neither the sharp-eyed Karen nor her Mark noted anything amiss.' But as she showered and climbed into a printed cotton patio dress Janey knew with a dull kind of fatalism that the easy friendship she .' He slanted her a dark. you're not ever the life and soul of the party type. It was. although Sam asked her on the way home if everything was all right.' she said swiftly. rather ironic glance and rested his hand momentarily on her knee. 'but today you seemed a little quiet even for you. it seemed. and that. 'Yes. 'You know that.' 'So? 'So leave it for the time being.' he observed somewhat drily. not even for two people as fond of each other as we are.and conversation became general and Janey could breathe a sigh of relief.' His wide shoulders lifted in a slight shrug. 'Sam. 'Nothing ever stays the same. By the time the last boat had come to rest on its mooring Janey felt mentally and emotionally drained of anything but the capacity to feel pain. she discovered. was unlimited. and neither am I.' she said bluntly. 'You aren't the same. you don't have to take me out if you don't want to.
'Sit down and I'll pin it up for you. Janey thought. things change and she had changed.had enjoyed with Sam was over. Frowning.' Penny said firmly. Have you got any?' 'No. I'm glad you had your ears pierced when I did. 'I'll do it.' . She stood for a long time in her narrow room staring at her reflection in the mirror as if trying to see where the difference lay. but she had to admit that they took away the bareness as well as adding an exotic look to the outfit. Wait there.' 'Well. and she approved of the way it clung to her narrow waist and flared gently out over her hips to the floor. she took up her comb. Your features don't suit it floating around your shoulders.' Penny sighed. 'You are hopeless. greens and ambers.' 'I hate it pinned up.' she said. The patio dress had been bought with some of the money she earned picking strawberries. then set it down again as Penny tapped and came in. then. get it cut.' her sister told her. too heavy by far. 'There. 'And eyeshadow. taking in the situation with one swift glance. and that was another thing to put down to Theft's account.' Deftly her slender hands tucked the thick. Janey! And you know you could look stunning if you tried.' They were elaborate gold ones. red-brown curtain into a neat swirl at the back of Janey's head. suited her. As he had said. The colours. but her hair was wrong. 'Too long. it shows off your long neck and those tiny little ears. 'I'll get you a pair of earrings.
And the dress was enhanced too.. Instead of the patches of colour which she had expected to see on her lids Janey noticed only that hereyes seemed infinitely mysterious. sweetie. to allure.' Penny herself looked gorgeous in a white dress splashed with stylised blue roses.' It was amazing what a difference eyeshadow made. 'At least you don't need mascara with those long black lashes.' her sister said sternly. Janey thought. Flowery and young. 'Hardly my type. idiot. 'This was given to me.' Relentlessly dabbing the liquid behind Janey's ears. the exact colour of her eyes. she went on. 'Perfume.' Janey laughed. or with wet hair slicked back from her face. Sit still. or you'll look like an Indian painted up for the warpath. Too exotic. 'You look beautifully exotic. amber and gold jewels in a face which had by some strange alchemy become fine of feature. but had to admit that her sister had been extremely skilful and discreet. Partington wondering what on earth happened to the girl next door when he sees you. and was off again. have a look at yourself. vivid face sparkling with anticipation beneath the cascade of her honey-gold hair. Janey looked suspiciously at herself in the mirror.' Penny exclaimed. Deep within her heart she was glad that Theo would see her like this.' Penny chuckled at her sister's grin. her beautiful. Siren isn't in it. reappearing with an elaborate package. her tanned shoulders gleaming against the thin straps. the soft cotton moulding the contours of her body and revealing the pale brown satin of her skin as though it had been made especially. 'It's ideal. giving herself one last considering look in the glass. 'You wait. Penny didn't need help to look lovely. You'll have Mr S. and made a face at her.' 'Rubbish. then. yet with more than a hint of the ancient East. but it doesn't suit my personality. At least he wouldn't always remember her as a tomboy in shorts.A moment later and she was back. There. .
There was not a cloud in the metallic sky. negotiating a fierce maze of potholes. she thought as she had done before that it probably made a pleasant brew. 'I'm glad I'm not a farmer. It had been expected. coating the trees nearest the road with a clinging film which only rain would dissolve.' Ian Bowden commented. but Janey's heart gave her a nasty pang and she had to stare out of the window at the coastal scenery for several moments before she regained sufficient control to join in the conversation.' 'We do need rain.' . 'Goodness. those cicadas are noisy! The heat and the dry must have brought them out earlier this year. the dusty grey specks of sheep as they grazed the dry grass. lightly tossing the top of the tall kanuka scrub so that the spicy.They went as a family. 'Somebody told me today that springs are failing further north. clean tang of its leaves filled the car. It was still very hot. not a speck of moisture anywhere^ yet in each gulley streams still ran between the cool green spirals of the tree. Because the road was not sealed a thick plume of dust rose up behind them. it was so fragrant The road twisted and wound round gullies where cicadas shrilled fiercely.ferns. but it was accepted that Janey would be coming back with Sam and on the way down Penny mentioned casually that she had organised a lift home with Theo. and at every corner there was a view of the sea. Janey knew of the early settlers use of the needle-like leaves of kanuka and its smaller cousin manuka for making tea. Occasionally the scrub would draw back from the road and they would see the parched paddocks of a farm. but a breeze was beginning to come in across the bay. peacock blue and sparkling against the red volcanic bluffs and the dim purple hills on the other side of the bay. the wooden bungalow set between clipped hedges with a windbreak of trees to the south.' his wife agreed.
A wave of nausea threatened to overcome her. because she did not want to talk. Most of the older members seemed to enjoy the greater comfort and the quietness of the lounge. They ate barbecued food and drank carafe wine or lager. she waited for the physical anguish to pass over. but there was no segregation as such. each shrill zither blending with thousands of others. then the band arrived and those who wished to dance moved into the huge clubroom decorated with vast bunches of gladioli in the club colours of orange and white. As they got out of the car behind the Clubhouse the noise seemed to pierce Janey's eardrums. Fortunately no one appeared to notice and by the time they climbed the long ramp into the club-room she was over whatever it had been. perhaps it was the mental and emotional tension which held her in thrall. It was quite impossible to ignore them. but it would have taken more fortitude than she possessed to produce even a moderate gaiety. because they were stunning together. out on to the terrace and back again as they cooled down. for people moved from the dance floor to the lounge. Janey and Sam teamed up with Mark and Karen and several others. but something had made Sam go quiet. Biting her lip. but blue roses on a white background kept intruding on her vision. She was grateful for this. Perhaps it was this which caused the occasion-to assume a dream-like aspect in her mind. Janey was well aware that her changed appearance was a hit. Wit was beyond her at any time. Janey had carefully kept her eyes averted. After one glance at Theo's broad shoulders in the blazer of some yacht club. In the green tunnel the cicadas were deafening. and her heart felt like a lump of lead within her breast. .The road down to the Yacht Club was narrow and winding beneath a remnant of the primeval coastal forest. but ever afterwards Janey could only remember isolated snatches of the evening. Theo and Penny were getting on very well together.
I'm afraid I'm not terribly good company.ness indeed.' she returned. 'She and Mr Carrington seem as thick as two thieves. Her conscience smote her.'You're very quiet. Janey noticed the brilliant gaiety of her sister's smile and the sparkle of her restless glance and wondered what Theo had been doing or saying to produce that air of feverish excitement. Don't you think the evening is a terrific success?' 'My dear girl. 'People are enjoying themselves. This was harsh. 'Poor Sam.' 'Quite frankly I'd rather have silence than listen to Karen's giggle all night. afterwards finding herself in a small group with her parents along with Penny and Theo and another couple.' he said deliberately. Before it always had been Penny who had been in complete control of any situation. New Year's Eve is always a terrific success. it seemed now that she had . Some time during the evening she danced a slow waltz with her father. the easy social banter of people who know and like each other and have no desire to impress. I suppose.' Sam said as they danced. Penny was radiant. but she smiled meaninglessly and made an affirmative noise and changed the subject.' There seemed nothing to say to that. Her father gave her a very mild rum and Coke and they chatted pleasantly enough. especially. Or was it Karen's giggle you. I don't know how Mark puts up with it. perhaps a little clumsily. I'm sorry. for Sam! 'He's used to it. 'Idiot.' Janey looked at him in astonishment.' 'Your sister. you know that. If so Sam made no comment about it but followed her lead. were referring to?' She laughed at the mild little joke and her depression lifted slightly.
His presence dominated the group. perhaps even the room. Are you planning another book set here in Awakopu. for he turned to follow her gaze. He was a magnificent animal and he knew it. Impossible to tell what Theo was thinking! After one covert glance Janey did not even try. discontented expression. that in a room full of more or less personable men. 'I'm Sarah Turner. Mr Carrington?' . but he also possessed strength of will and intelligence and an honesty which scorned meanness. He must have seen the puzzlement and indecision in Janey's eyes. with an exquisitely made-up face marred only by an avid.' She smiled vivaciously at the suddenly silent group. 'Mr Carrington?' she said eagerly. What was it he had. As he did so the woman stepped forward. some just as handsome as he. 'It must be rather exciting to have such a famous author as Theo Brady taking notes among you. Janey decided.surrendered without reservation to Theo's urbane masculinity and was enjoying her capitulation. almost greedily. Janey had intercepted enough swift. and that air bf sensual awareness which appealed to the most primitive instincts in the feminine half of the population. She was watching Theo closely. he stood out effortlessly? Sheer force of personality. We met at the party your publishers gave when they launched your second book. measuring glances from both male and female eyes to know that he was causing a considerable stir of interest. very slim and elegant. The. She was middle-aged. woman had been trying to catch his eye for some minutes when Janey became aware of her and turned her head slightly in case it was someone she knew. for their eyes had met and his had been bland and ironic as if he understood exactly what was happening inside her head and was amused by it.
And what a bombshell. He had been polite to Mrs Turner but got rid of her smartly. watching through half. 'I'm afraid I'm not quite sure how to talk to best-selling authors. Theo Brady the author wrote very frankly about his hero's love-life—no doubt. Janey thought drearily.closed eyes as the headlights picked up patches of bush and discarded them. thrillers which were. no doubt retiring after discussing Mrs Turner's bombshell exhaustively. 'Has the cat got your tongue?' 'No.' she said politely. set in South-East Asia. those in the know whispered that the second also was to be filmed. 'Do I detect censure in those polite tones?' 'Good heavens.CHAPTER SIX JANEY sat quietly beside Sam. after two o'clock. a twisted humourless movement. just what the woman had planned! Theo Brady had written four best-sellers. Theo Carrington the man had been extremely angry when his cover was blown. was now convinced that they were at least based on truth.' . After a long time he had asked harshly. and when he asked Janey to dance his grip on her hand had been as painful as the cold savagery at the back of his eyes. semi-autobiographkal. 'Why should I be angry with you ?' 'You might feel that I should have told you my shameful secret instead of letting you hear it from someone else. from experience. no.' He smiled then. A film was planned for the first book. I'm sorry. Janey who had read them all.' she said. exasperated. again. It was late. and her parents would long be in bed. so publicity had half-hinted.
sarcasm heavy in his voice.' 'Yes. why not salve a little pride by letting him think that she was trying her fledgling wings on Sam? So she shrugged and felt his arm tighten around her. Your business is your own. She meant nothing to him. 'They are useful. I thought tape recorders were the "in" thing now. I'm glad you like it. 'My appreciation surely can't be necessary. You're looking very beautiful tonight.' said Janey. I think they must imagine I have a little black book somewhere to record every . 'People tend to gush or clam up when confronted by an author. 'Which is why I prefer to travel under my own name. but I prefer my black book. at least that had been her first reaction to the knowledge that he was Theo Brady.' He looked down at her.She was hurt. I imagine it's the young Samuel you want to impress. . 1 can't see why. his eyes very bright and hard.' On the point of laughing at such an odd idea she hesitated and was lost.' "True.detail about them. hiding the hurt his abruptness caused her as best she could. aware of a lifting of the spirits which could have been caused by the fact that he was offering some sort of explanation to her. So she said calmly. a cruel twist to his mouth. and judging by the black looks he's giving me you've succeeded. God knows why. Penny tells me she was the instigator of the change.' She chuckled.' he emphasised. After all. but common sense told her that there was no reason why he should have told her anything about himself at all. she was.
'Hush. but after a few seconds it was washed away by the magic of his arms around her. You're as reckless as your beautiful sister. 'Theo--' she began. afraid that someone would notice. A bitter anger flooded her being.' he murmured. pressing her down the full length of him in a movement which was openly sensual and provocative. lending a forbidding glitter to the swift. but before she could make a complete fool of herself-by demanding what he meant by that enigmatic statement the lights brightened. she drew in a deep breath. how he had gained . Every nerve in Janey's body tensed as Theo slid his hand across the smoothness of her shoulder before moving it to her hips.'Then let's give him something more to be a little jealous of. afraid too of her own response to his blatant seduction. upward glance she stabbed at him. or you wouldn't be dancing with me. the music crashed to a finale and he drew her to one side. Slowly the lights began to dim as the band switched to an unashamedly sentimental tune. you haven't.' she retorted unevenly.' Something in his voice made her lift her head sharply. They had been agog and fascinated. 'but I have some sense!' 'Oh no. 'Coward!' 'Maybe. but when she pulled away from him he smiled unpleasantly in the half-darkness. shall we?' he suggested softly as he rested his cheek on her forehead and held her closely against him. Already they knew that he was Theo Brady. Scanning the tough inflexibility of his expression. speculating on how wealthy he must be. delivering her to Sam and their group with a mocking smile which made her feel like kicking his shin and then crying.
if you ask me it's a poor thing to do.' she said distantly. 'Not going to. for as he changed down to help his old-bomb over the last steep hill before the village Sam said abruptly: 'What excuse did Carrington give for not telling us who he really is?' 'None. sickened by the nods and hints. 'No. It seemed that her gladness had been a little premature. because Sam was quick and intuitive when it came to human relationship.' 'I know that. And he really is Theo Carrington. 'But you only have to look at him to see that he's be<en around. Sam? Are you afraid I might be falling for him?' It was a dangerous question.' 'Oh.the experience to write his books.' She tried for lightness of tone and hoped that she managed it.' Sam said steadily. Jay. They had sickened Janey and she was glad that Sam. For a moment she thought he knew her secret and braced herself for his pity. sticks out a mile. I think he fascinates you. It . 'He seemed to have plenty to say to you while you were dancing together. But after a barely noticeable hesitation he said carefully. had said little about him.' 'Well. the outrageous suggestions which had been bandied around. 'He just wanted privacy. Still'— he was obviously trying to be objective—'I suppose if a guy writes that sort of book he needs some privacy. at least. . don't you start too. Brady is a nom-de-plume.' she begged. pressing her shoulders back against the seat.' Uneasily she moved. 'Why the concern.
but then he's a fascinating guy: That's part of his stock in trade. 'Yes. probably helps a lot when it comes to gathering material for his books. she's certainly attracted to Theo. He seems to have a powerful effect on Penny. you'll have to drop .' He smiled at her bewilderment. 'Truly. Your sister is a bit too hard and glossy for some men. Janey. Then she remembered the care with which Penny had done her hair and the gift of the perfume and felt ashamed of her meanness. Unless you want to be in her shadow all your life.' Sheer shock robbed Janey of speech for some moments. very much. She's like a rose without much scent. 'Don't you like her?' she asked after a moment. Janey was glad of it. Who wouldn't be?' 'Loyal Janey! Quite a few. but the scent is beautiful and the colour is deeper and warmer.' she said warily. This view of Penny was almost heretical. The form may not be so perfect. 'Penny isn't silly. 'I mean. yet she would not have been human had she not felt a small sly pleasure that at least one male wasn't completely bowled over by her lovely sister. At a venture I'd say for the first time in her life she's met someone who hasn't fallen in a heap at her feet and she doesn't know quite how to cope. but if you ask them which bushes they have in their garden they'll tell you all the old favourites. but then he's attracted to her. one of those beautiful modern blooms which look superb and which everyone admires. oddly enough. for she could not have continued parrying his questions for very long without revealing some of the turmoil that Theo had woken within her. I just don't think she's perfect. as you seem to.' He seemed rather glad to forsake the subject of Theo's effect on Janey for the less disturbing one of Penny's response to the man.
that hero- worshipping attitude and realise that you're just as worthwhile a person as she is.' He sounded exasperated yet tentative, as though expecting a rebuff, but although Janey was surprised and a little shocked by his words she felt an unaccountable wave of affection for him flood through her. He was a dear, and he was trying to build her confidence. Even though he was going about it the wrong way she gave him credit for the attempt, and when they arrived at the door and he kissed her she responded, unconsciously revealing that she had been kissed by an expert. His mouth was firm, but there was none of the magic; that Theo's touch created. Afterwards Janey found to her horror that there were, tears in her eyes. Perhaps she had hoped that it was the embrace she responded to, not the man. Well, she knew now that it was only Theo who made her blood sing in her veins as though she was an instrument only for his playing. 'Who were you kissing?' Sam asked very softly, continuing as she shook her head impatiently. 'I know it wasn't me.' I'm sorry,' she whispered. 'Why?' He released her, stepping back into the pale light of the stars. 'Janey, don't apologise all of the time. There's no reason why I should ask you a. question like that; certainly no reason why you should answer it. Goodnight.' 'Goodnight, Same.' On impulse she reached up and Kissed his cheek, was rewarded by his startled chuckle and a swift tug at a lock of her hair, and then he turned and was gone. The engine purred into life as the car slid quietly down the drive towards the road. Thoughtful as always, Sam did not make any more noise than was necessary in case he woke the sleeping street.
Janey had never felt more wide awake. Picking up Shai, who had appeared, shadow-like, from the darkness, she walked silently across the dew-wet grass towards the jacaranda tree. The feathery foliage and the huge trusses of lavender-purple flowers kept the hammock from being dampened by the dew; it took only a moment for Jaiiey to climb into it, arrange Shai on her chest and lie still as the night air, waiting for—what? It was very calm, not a breath of wind or any sound. The heavy fragrance of the queen of the night flowers permeated the entire garden, exotic, romantic as the luminous blooms of the pale hibiscuses, shallow saucers in the darkness. Above, the stars glowed like gems in the thick velvet of the sky, the spangled path of the Milky Way separating the hemispheres. To the south the four great stars and the fifth little one of the Southern Cross pointed the way to the South Pole. It was very beautiful, very solemn. Janey gave up her worry about the complicated tangle of emotions which surrounded her to abandon herself to awe and a chastening reflection that humanity was a very small part of the universe! Slowly, the peace seeped into her soul. How long she lay there in the scented darkness staring at the sky with Shari a warm, quiescent heap on her breast she never knew. It seemed hours; it could have been no more than ten minutes. But at last after yawning twice she got up and made her way back across the lawn towards the open doors of her room. She saw them as soon as she turned the corner of the house, two silhouettes blended into one as Theo kissed Penny with what seemed to be devouring passion. Janey stopped, shrinking back against the white boards of the house, but Shai leaped gracefully from her arms up on to the terrace, miaowing cheerfully. Penny laughed, her head tilted back so that the fair hair spilled like moonlight across Theo's arm.
'Come on up, Janey,' she called softly. 'We can see you!'' Thank God there was only the faint glow of the stars to see by. At least the anguish which must be imprinted on her face was concealed. As if her feet were weighted with lead Janey walked up the steps at the side of the terrace, dreading the sight of the two of them in each other's arms. But they had separated. Penny was stroking Shai, a Shai who struggled until she was free, then sprang across to Theo's shoulder, swiped his cheek with one lavender paw and fled back to Janey. 'What are you doing?' Penny asked, her voice .high and excited yet not cross.. It was almost as though she welcomed the interruption. With the memory of her own reactions to Theo's kisses only too vivid Janey thought she knew why. 'Stargazing,' she returned, trying to keep her voice cool and uninterested. 'Sorry to interrupt, but I didn't know you were here.' Penny laughed and Theo smiled, a white flash in the darkness before he asked blandly, 'Did you enjoy yourself tonight?' For all the world like her father! A slow, deep- burning anger began to smoulder within Janey, an anger fuelled by his arrogant assumption that it was perfectly O.K. for him to make love to both Bowden sisters and not suffer the slightest touch of shame. Of all the nerve! she thought furiously. From Penny's attitude it was quite clear that Theo hadn't told her he had lost his head with her naive young sister; no doubt he trusted that Janey's embarrassment would prevent her from blurting it out. Perhaps he hoped to gather material for his next book! Well, with luck he would find that Penny was more than able to cope with him, and he was never going to get another chance to lay a hand on Janey!
Her anger made her lift her head proudly. had. 'Yes. It's been a most instructive evening. reckless pirate. 'Night. Penny.' Penny chuckled. chicken. rather notorious best-selling author. Goodnight. For all of us. By reminding herself frequently that he was Theo Brady. When at last she finally slept it was with the determination not to have anything more to do with him engraved on her sore heart. Wishful thinking again. warned her off. Hastily covering it with her hand. And the touch of his hand made her draw in her breath sharply as if he had hit her. she should be able to manage her unruly heart. After all. until the sound of their departing voices helped her relax. too knowledgeable about everything. to be anything but a threat to her peace of mind. thank you.' 'Goodnight. very much. physical attraction was as old as the hills and she was far from the first girl to fall headlong into the trap set by a handsome. With a muffled goodnight she fled in between the curtains and stood. hands clenched against her sides. deepened her voice with a note of sarcasm as she answered him. Theo. 'Yes. Thank heavens we don't have to get up early. she said. she thought wearily. and especially the relations between the sexes.' That was Penny. 'True. Are you off to bed now?' A huge yawn split Janey's face. He was too tough. He had set no snare for her feet. in fact. The starlight glitter of his glance unnerved her. I think. . Theo opened the door into her bedroom as casually as if he had always known where she slept and as she passed in front of him he tweaked a lode of her hair back from her face. As she drifted off to sleep she thought she had been a little unfair to him. Which made it all the odder that that embrace she had witnessed should have seemed so flagrant a betrayal.
'Because he's so darned casual.' This time Janey nodded and managed to mutter. just you wait and see. 'You gave me a terrific fright. staring out through the screens. certainly had no reason not to make love to Penny.hoping against hope that he found in Her something more than the physical to appeal to him. With a throat clogged by anger and frustration Janey could not speak. 'He made me feel as though I'd initiated the whole affair and that he'd followed my lead because it amused him to do so. You know.' 'Beware.' She paused as though waiting for a question. 'You should put out a sign or something. yawning to cover her emotions. He had made no pretence at loving her. she faced the fact that it was her hopes which had betrayed her. Janey. What did you think of Mrs Sarah Turner's bombshell?' . not Theo.' Penny grinned. 'You get a good view of the basin from here. 'But I'm determined to bring him to his knees. Except —it seemed a little tactless of him.' her sister complained. I didn't like it much. not at all put out. I thought at first you were a prowler.' Janey pulled the sheet up under her chin.' Penny stretched. 'Understandable. until Shai jumped out of your arms. and although Janey realised the limitations of her knowledge of men she would have been prepared to bet her new caftan that Theo was too experienced and sophisticated to be tactless unless it was necessary. then got up to wander across to the window. danger ahead. Sighing. 'Did we embarrass you?' Penny seemed quite casual about the whole affair the next morning. but when Penny looked across at her she lifted her eyebrows in interrogation.' 'Mm. that man has me puzzled.
actually. Great life. Dad had them home from the library and I couldn't resist them. perhaps a different light in the clear blue eyes. Penny stared through the screens as if trying to see through Toroa*s wooden hull. When Penny left Janey scrunched down between the sheets hoping that more sleep would prevent the unpleasant thoughts chasing themselves around her brain. 'Yes.' said Janey. Janey lay staring at the ceiling. I believe the Political Science people recommended them as good background reading. she thought heavily. to see Theo as Penny's husband would be the doom of her own hopes and fears. I wasn't that surprised. in fact. When her sister's disclosure prevented any such outcome. and Janey knew enough of her sister's strength of will to hope for everyone's sake that she could persuade Theo to marry her. They were very popular at 'varsity too. 'He's a good writer. No wonder he can afford a lovely yacht like that to roam around the world. 'I mean. Have you?' 'Oh yes.'Well. Perhaps it was the unusual note of wistfulness in her sister's voice. but Janey knew that for Penny this thing had gone beyond her usual sort of love affair. even though a buccaneer is more romantic than a tramp.' 'I know what you mean. Even though. He's too vital a person to be content with an aimless life. however. it was more than . It seemed to be a morning for facing things. Wide-eyed. eh?' It was as Penny finished speaking that Janey faced something she had carefully avoided thinking about all this time—ever since she had met Theo. Penny was thinking about life with Theo either as his wife or his resident woman. and by the time her sister reappeared bearing a tray with coffee and toast she had admitted to herself that whatever it was which she felt for Theo.' Drumming her fingers on the back of a chair. Have you read his books?' ^ Janey nodded. I found it-hard to believe that he just roamed the seas.
just the attraction between two healthy and personable animals. Last night, when she had seen his mouth pressed on Penny's, she had felt a desolation so intense that it had jolted her from careless childhood into another state. She had died a little, and yet the paradox was that in that death she had found some sort of maturity. Was that what growing up was about? The death of all illusions, one by painful one, until one faced life stripped of all which had made it bearable, and only one's own inner strength as a guide. Once—long ago, before she had met Theo--she had thought that falling in love must be sweet, a joyous meeting of mind and spirit and body, a sharing of all that was good in two people. In some ways perhaps it was, for she had spent many happy hours with Theo discovering him to be interesting and intelligent in spite of his cynical outlook and occasional contempt. But mostly it had been pain, an aftermath of disillusion which spoiled the memory of their dealings with each other. And yet to see him with Penny was agony of mind and spirit past bearing, as though something fragile and lovely had been smirched beyond recognition. That he was casual, almost jaded in his approach to women she knew only too well, and yet he still possessed the power to wound her unbearably. 'You're looking very sombre,' Penny said lightly. 'Suffering from too little sleep?' 'No. Just thinking.' Penny laughed, passing her a mug of coffee. 'I remember the long deep thoughts of adolescence. Any idea what you want to do yet?' 'No. I don't suppose I'll ever do anything much. I'm not good at anything.' Janey spoke without bitterness, but kept her lashes lowered to cover her eyes.
'Nonsense,' Penny said bracingly. 'You know, Janey, I think you've been tackling this whole job thing from the wrong angle. So, you weren't brilliant at school, but you still did pretty well. If I remember rightly your marks in English and History and Music were very good all the way through. Bearing those in mind, think of the things you like doing best.' 'Reading, sailing, fishing, gardening and cryptic crosswords.' Janey supplied promptly. 'And cleaning tarnished silver.' She could repress a smile at the amazement on her sister's face at this somewhat startling collection of pastimes, but Penny was not one to be put off easily. 'Well, it's a start,' she said with commendable firmness. 'You like music too, I know. Your record collection is huge and pretty varied. Is there anything at all that you've ever thought you would like to do, however wild or far out?' 'Crew a yacht to the islands.' 'I mean as a job, idiot.' Janey shook her head. 'No. At least—I'd like to think that whatever I did was useful.' Her sister looked at her with interest. 'I think I know what you mean,' she said after a moment. 'You always were an earnest thing, Janey. You know, it seems to me that half your trouble is lack of confidence and the other half is not having any saleable skills yet. Why don't you go to Auckland to business college and take a business course? Then you'd have something to bargain with. If you can type and keep books and things there are plenty of openings.' She laughed suddenly. 'You could go with Theo on Toroa and be his secretary !'
Janey smiled, a victory of will over inclination, then to hide her emotion said swiftly, 'You're probably right. If I did that I would have some kind of training behind me, even if all I ever do is work in an office.' 'Plenty of people thoroughly enjoy work in an office,' Penny told her briskly. 'Drink your coffee, there's a love, and we'll go and beard Mum and Dad.' Their parents were quite amenable, only making one stipulation. 'You must spend the first year at least with Aunt Catherine,' Joy said firmly. 'You'd enjoy that, Janey, as you get on so well with her.' Yes, Janey did find her father's competent, slightly zany sister sympathetic and had no hesitation about spending a year in such congenial company. 'Are you sure she'll have me?' she asked doubtfully. 'Yes. She enjoyed the year Penny stayed with her, and it's always been taken for granted that if you went to Auckland you would stay there too,' Ian told her. But her mother asked quietly, 'Are you sure you really want to go, Janey? You don't have to, you know.' Some animal instinct warned Janey that Joy had noticed something, that there was more than her mother's usual caution in the query. At that moment pity, even her mother's loving, unspoken sympathy, was more than Janey's pride could bear. Until that moment she had allowed herself to be borne along on Penny's enthusiasm; now, however, she made her final commitment.
and it was one she was not going to take. neither then or in the subsequent days when they all helped with the outfitting of a wardrobe for her. for there could be no doubt that she was being tossed snippets of information about Theo's doings and then watched for her reactions.'Yes. Apparently he took Phyl Talbot out a couple of times. Janey felt that she could not bear it. The lesson was plain to see. but in . Of Theo they saw very little.' she returned. by turns sweet and sharp. of course. so she applied herself fiercely to the preparations for her departure. at least it will give me something to bargain with. The hot weather. Janey. Paul went away off on a camp and left a gap quite out of proportion to his size in the household. seemed to be fretting everyone's nerves. Nowhere. unremitting and relentless. which probably explained Penny's odd moods. Sadly it seemed that Penny's interest in Theo had somehow become generally known.' 'Then we must see about getting you some decent clothes. She went out several times with Geoff McDonald before announcing that she had finally broken with him for good and all. devotion got you. told herself that that was where misplaced. he was finding his job at the freeing works very tiring according to his mother. lifting her lashes to reveal the opaque amber of her eyes as her mouth curved into a smile. You won't want to use your allowance to buy them when you get there. Janey saw little of Sam once the holidays were over. sorry for him. especially when reporting to anyone who might conceivably have an interest in the events it relayed. somehow. And Penny seemed—different. Hankering after Theo Carrington was an easy road to pain and misery and ultimate despair. the local grapevine was extraordinarily efficient. or perhaps it was the emotional climate of the place. 'As Penny says.' If her mother had sensed that Janey's heart wasn't entirely in this move to Auckland she gave no sign of it.
'But. and quite frankly. Mum --!' Janey protested. arranged. Aunt Catherine will take. then capitulated. it's by far the best way. especially the bits where the hero left his weeping lover with never a backward glance! It was in this mood that she discovered that her mother had arranged for her to go to an interview with someone from the Technical Institute. 'Your father finds the heat in Auckland intolerable at this time of the year. Joy touched her daughter's cheek with an uncertain finger. 'My dear girl.' 'When is this appointment?' .' On the brink of refusing flatly to go anywhere with Theo Janey noticed how tired her mother looked. her fine eyes tired.spite of the fact that the interest of her mother's friends must have galled her every feeling Penny smiled and refused to show it. hesitated. I do too. 'That's my good girl. real dismay putting an odd tremble into her voice. she decided. you to the interview and look after you. that Theo should drive her to Auckland and bring her back two days later. dear. furthermore.' Joy pushed a limp lock of hair back from her brow. And Janey found that she hated Theo as much for humiliating Penny as she had for the fact that he had kissed her so soon after he had awoken Janey to the needs and desires of her body. and as Theo has to go down and said he would be glad of the company it seemed by far the best arrangement. He was quite despicable. The network of tiny lines around her mother's eyes faded. and every word of his wretched books must be absolutely true.
'Can I get you a drink. or something?' 'Go away!' came the hissing whisper. except that it was one thing to go to bed and quite another to sleep. so you'll have to get to bed early tonight. wondering what on earth to do. 'It's only me.' Janey sat on the side of the bed.' Which was all very well.' said Penny desolately. Theo wants to leave early tomorrow morning so that he gets most of the journey over before it gets too hot. closing the door carefully behind her. but Janey knew perfectly well that she could not go by and let Penny cry alone in the dark like that. but the choked sobbing had stopped and after a moment there came the noise of her nose being blown defiantly. 'Is it—is it anything you'd care to talk about?' 'No. . so she opened the door into her sister's bedroom and went in.' 'I can't. In the end Janey took one of her mother's sleeping tablets. the noise came from Penny's room. Janey hoped that Penny would find it in her heart to ease herself of some of her burden. afraid to make any movement towards her sister but quite determined not to leave her. Janey hesitated. Janey. It was quite dark.'The day after tomorrow. 'Leave me alone.' Janey whispered. When Janey opened the door there was a sharp movement from the bed. It was on her way back from the bathroom that she heard the weeping. the only light coming from the great clusters of stars through the window. Soft but terrifyingly insistent. If she let her sister know she had heard her it was at the risk of humiliating her. and the weeping choked into silence for a moment. then a suspicion of the truth crept into her brain .
she murmured. Carefully keeping her voice level. But he must have guessed that I was nowhere near his league. I'm sorry. At least he raised no false hopes. but after. she must be crying over his neglect of her. 'When he sees I've got the message he'll act as though nothing has happened. so he did the best thing possible. 'You're a dear. I wonder just what's made him that way? He thought—he knew I was just another willing girl and so he made casual love to me —that time you saw us. I've discovered. 'Do you feel O.' Janey returned awkwardly. 'Well.' She brought out his name with a kind of gallant defiance which wrung Janey's heart. 'Pride can turn into conceit very swiftly. 'Mm.' Penny's voice caught on the word.' . A slim hand fastened itself around Janey's capable one and squeezed. Janey. For. Cruel. 'But in this case of pride going before a fall I have to find my own cure. but that's Theo. of course. And so will I.' There was a long pause.' 'Left you flat?' Janey couldn't suppress the indignation in her voice. Janey. All very civilised.' There were a few minutes of companionable silence before Penny continued. Too tough and too cynical. now?' 'Yes. In a few weeks I'll be thankful to Theo. I needed a lesson like this to prove that I'm not irresistible.and she cursed herself for being such a fool as to lay herself open to more pain if she had to listen to Penny talk about Theo. then Penny resumed. Don't worry about me.' 'Don't be an idiot.K. another attempt at blowing her nose it came more strongly. 'He's too experienced for the likes of me.' her sister said thickly.
Still. perhaps trying to still the heavy beating of her pulses. The Elizabethans. sp dominating and devil-may-care and yet clever and creative with it. he would be a demanding. but I'll get over it. 'I'm sorry.But there was bitterness and pain in her light tones. while acknowledging the truth of his sister's observation.' Janey chuckled softly. Unconsciously Janey had put a hand to her throat. that's all. but a clean wound healed faster. There hasn't been time for me to fall in love. . so much that Janey knew her sister had built her hopes high and was suffering the consequences of seeing them fall. she was sure. I've never met a man like him. The thought was sinfully sweet. Penny had the clearer vision. had been great lovers. Yet if any woman ever breached the impregnable defences he seemed to have erected around his heart. Janey's picture of him as a pirate had taken into account only one side of his complex character. Join the club. He excited me. his woman would never be able to call her soul her own! Once Theo gave himself there would be no turning back and he would demand an equal commitment in response. at the moment. Janey knew quite well that she could not have been so merciless. thank the Lord. 'So am I.' she said again. she remembered. ignoring the writer—and the lover. the sort who tossed off a beautiful sonnet to his mistress and then went out and slayed himself a dozen Spaniards before breakfast just to keep his hand in. He would hate losing his independence. feeling completely inadequate. she thought sadly. although he was hardened by the life he had led perhaps Penny was right and his ruthless handling of the incident was the correct way. He's like an Elizabethan. exciting lover. but it was almost impossible for her to visualise Theo in love. Janey thought that if she were any judge of the man. Theo Carrington had a lot to answer for. loathe the idea of looking to a woman for any part of his happiness.
She even managed to escape unscathed from Theo's disturbing attraction. her heart had barely been touched. And when I think how I've treated poor Geoff all these years.' Janey whispered. I think I deserved a short sharp lesson. 'I promise not to bawl any more. 'That hurdle is over. when it was beginning to make itself quite dear to Janey that his effect on her own heart and life was going to be permanent. In bed.' Penny ordered. among the anger and pain and misgiving and disappointment. She was halfway to the door when her sister's wry. and she knew it must be love. there was one she had never met before. 'Everyone is entitled to make a fool of themselves once. In the jumble of emotions she felt for him. Goodnight.' 'Goodnight. keeping him on a very loose rein in case I needed him. one which forgave him and longed-for him and wanted him. It was very sweet. half-forlorn voice arrested her. He might settle himself to falling for some more suitable girl now that he has absolutely no hope as far as I'm concerned.' she said.'Hop off the bed. I'm glad I've broken it off with him. with the effects of the sleeping pill making themselves felt. . Janey wondered sleepily why Penny should have all the luck.' So it seemed as though it was almost entirely chastened pride which had hurt Penny.
'No. Her mother kissed her cheek. thank you.CHAPTER SEVEN WHEN she saw Theo the next morning it was as if the sun had come through after days of rain. Fortunately her mother came through from the kitchen. won't you? Don't forget to give our love to Catherine. then was transformed to his usual blandness. apparently quite unaware of the tension which crackled between her daughter and the man she was entrusted to. but she would endure the pain for the pleasure. for his gaze sharpened into wariness. You're sure you have enough money?' Theo said urbanely. became a piercing scrutiny which she could not bear. I'd like to get away. would you like some coffee before you go?' she enquired.' . 'I'm sure you will. 'Ready. Perhaps the smile she gave him revealed more of her feelings than was wise.hasn't I'll lend her enough to cover expenses. Miraculously the realisation of her love gave her the confidence to meet the cool assessment of his green-grey glance without blushing. Jane?' 'Yes. dear. Theo. "Bye.' Even this didn't upset Joy. dears. 'If she . 'Have a good time.' That sharp glance rested momentarily on Janey's mouth. Four hours in the same car with him was going to be a nicely blended mixture of heaven and hell. Joy. 'Ah. Ring tomorrow night to tell us how the interview went.' she beamed.
When he wanted to he could . 'Sarcastic. He looked like a Greek god. refusing to respond to the caressing note in his deep tones. 'I didn't exactly offer. gilding Theo's hair into an aureole of gold. It saves Dad a boring trip. restful way of being silent. 'Thank you for offering to take me. feel obliged to make conversation. I won't make conversation at all.' It took a moment or two for the significance of this remark to sink home.Although the dawn chorus was finished it was barely light. Theo had the sexuality all right. like to see his expression with the control erased by passion. 'No. but don't. So. When it did Janey felt a flare of resentment which gave her the courage to answer. Well. but the set of his mouth and the square chin denoted only too much selfcontrol. When you've got something to say.' His shout of laughter warmed her heart. He hates Auckland. 'Are you going to be like this all the way down?' 'Like this? Like what?' he asked in a voice as smooth as cream. I'll be nice to you.' she said doubtfully.' 'I hope that's a compliment. Jane. swiftly. she said. Because if you are. one of those splendid beings immortalised by their vibrant sexuality and their total lack of self-control. but as they got into the car the sun came up over the line of hills to the east. Let's say that your mother was so pleased at the idea that it would have been churlish to refuse to agree. Janey knew that she could not allow herself to be lured into such speculations as what it would be. please. and I'm not being sarcastic! You have a trice. say it.' His smile was satirical. I find your silences as pleasing as your conversation.
charm the birds from the trees and he knew it, she reflected with some resentment. Charm was the most potent, the most unfair weapon in anybody's armoury and Theo was not above using his without scruple. It seemed that he was determined to make the journey pleasant, for within ten minutes he had her helplessly laughing at an anecdote; she replied in kind and as the morning grew into golden splendour Janey found herself relaxing her guard. The fact that she did not have to face him made this much easier. One thing about a car, in spite of the fact that she was sitting too close to him she had to turn her head to look directly at him, and it was not considered impolite to look ahead all the time. His lean brown hands so competently handling the wheel were disturbing enough as was the sound of his voice; when Theo set out to entertain it would take a woman with iron determination to resist him. Leaving busy, bustling Whangarei city behind them they crossed the wide, fertile Ruakaka fiats and then through the tiny Scottish settlement of Waipu with its stone Hall of Memories behind the obelisks in memory of the dead of two world wars before the car tackled the steep slopes of the Brynderwyn Hills. 'When I was smaller I used to think these hills were the boundary between us and the rest of the world,' Janey remarked, shading her eyes from the immense sweep of silver-blue sea to the east. 'Between fairyland and the real world. Which was fairyland?' 'Oh, Northland.' She sighed and turned to peer through the back window at the splendid volcanic crags which marked the Whangarei heads, the Hen and Chicken islands and the triangle of Sail Rock, jewels in the shimmering, scintillating sea. 'We came here in February,' she said, turning back again, 'England had been bitterly cold and Auckland was so humid that it was exhausting. Aunt Catharine drove us up and as we came further north it got hotter
and the air became drier. We came over this hill and there was that glorious panorama before us, the islands blue and hazy, the impudence of the red and white chimney stack at the power station and the perpetual flame at the oil refinery. In Whangarei the hibiscuses were blooming and everything looked so clean and rich, like the garden of Eden. I fell in love with the North then.' 'Have you seen much of the rest of New Zealand?' 'Oh yes. We always go touring for our holidays. Don't get me wrong, I love other parts too, but I think the North has something special.' 'Every part of the country is special,' he said. 'Central Otago is superb with its mighty rivers and acres of apricot orchards and autumn colours, and Stewart Island, right down to the bottom, is unique and delightful, just to mention two. But I agree with you as far as your beloved North is concerned. Aren't you going to find it difficult to adjust to city life?' Shrugging, she returned, I'll have to adjust. I don't , want to go, but if I stay at home I'll never do anything.' 'What would you like td do?' 'That's the trouble. Nothing. At least--' she stopped, biting her lip. 'At least?' he prompted. She felt the swift, razor-sharp glance as if it were tangible, a slash across her cheek. 'I'd like to do what you do,' she said baldly. Perhaps she imagined the sharp intake of breath just before his reply, for when he spoke his tone was smooth and subtly mocking. 'Is that an offer? Because if it is, you should be careful whom you proposition, Jane. If I were a few years younger—or you a few years older— I'd take you up on it.'
Embarrassed, scarlet with mortification, she retorted brusquely, T didn't mean that, and you know it! I meant—I'd like to travel in a yacht, crew on one of the big blue-water cruisers.' He laughed and touched her face, carelessly running his finger down the hot contour of her cheekbone. 'Poor Jane, you're blushing. I'm sorry. Tell me, if you have sea water in your veins why are you going for art interview to see if you can be fitted into an office career?' 'Because there's no opening for me in anything else,' she said, dampening down the fierce lick of anticipation which his casual caress had sent surging through her veins. 'As Penny says, I should have some training behind me.' 'That's the sensible way to look at things, and your sister is eminently sensible,' he agreed in a voice devoid of any expression. 'You, unfortunately, are not in the least sensible, are you?' 'No, I suppose not.' 'Romantic, idealistic Jane! You've managed to avoid the mould of convention up until now. Why give in at this late stage? I thought you had more courage.' Perhaps, if she had not made herself look so stupid before, had his voice been anything but lightly amused; perhaps if her knowledge of his treatment of Penny did not lie between them—perhaps she might have answered differently, for the thought of what she was doing with her life appalled her. 'It's all very well for you,' she said, resentment colouring her tones, her profile aloof and austere. 'You're a man, so nobody's worried unduly about you. It's different for women.' 'Other women have done it.'
'What on earth do you think I should do?' 'Oh no. I know. I'll have to work if only to get the money to do the things I really want to do 1' 'Such as?' He was remorseless as if he knew that she had made no plans at all for her future. saw the hot amber of her eyes filled with anger and a kind of desperation and smiled. But I'll give you one piece of advice which I've found to be pretty valid. like so many others. I won't. So she returned stubbornly: 'Oh. Don't probe. you'll get there.' He slanted a sideways glance at her. If you want something badly enough. working at a job you can barely tolerate while waiting for a man to come along and marry you.' 'Very well.' . You have to decide whether the game is worth the candle. 'Life is not easy. but it seems as though you're determined to waste your life. It didn't seem worthwhile. for the only future which held any hope of happiness was one which included him. Theo! Sooner or later I have to grow up and it will be easier if I do it now. of course. a twisted ironic movement of his mouth. Theo. Don't. It has been known for people to get where they wanted to be and find that wasn't what they really wanted after all. any other existence would be inexpressibly dreary—at least. lots of things. That it might never heal was something she refused to face.'I know. I don't make decisions for others. until she was healed of the wound in her heart caused by her hopeless love. and you bend your every energy towards your dream. Apart from anything else. Jane.' The scorn in his voice flicked her on the raw. Without pausing to think through the consequences of such a remark she blurted out.
Does ambition repel you?' 'No. trying to sort her jumbled feelings into some sort of order. Independence is lonely.'There speaks the cynic!' Janey looked down at her hands.' Theo shrugged.fancifully. but it has its compensations. Growing up in your sister's shadow hasn't helped your self-confidence either. of course. I'm not.' 'No. Are you hungry?' . Theo? By ruthlessly applying yourself to your aims?' 'Yes. Kinder in the long run. chopping her from his life with one swift clean stroke when he realised that she was not able to carry on his kind of casual affair. very sure of yourself to make a success of that approach to life. Even this jaunt is at Penny's instigation. How could she tell him that it was the ruthlessness which frightened her. more strongly this time.' she said again.' She thought. 'But you must be very certain. of course. 'You're young. but hands which could hurt as well as caress. saw the thin brown fingers curve into more graceful attitudes and went on quietly. He had been quite ruthless where Penny was concerned. Is that how you've got where you are. not the ambition? Her glance strayed to the relaxed yet purposeful grip of his hands on the wheel. but it showed determination and an uncompromising will which frightened her. and your parents have always treated you as a slightly dim-witted child. With care she relaxed the muscles. It's entirely up to you whether you continue to live in her shadow or strike out on your own. she thought . clenched and tense in her lap. Hands to trust. 'No. You don't sound as though you approve.' 'And you're not.
but Catherine also had immense stamina. 'And Mr Carrington. But at whom she did not know. leading the way inside.And that marked the end of the odd conversation. withdrawn. a considerable amount of money and what she described as 'the insatiable curiosity of an Elephant's Child. finely cut features of the man. and beneath the urbane exterior she sensed anger. 'Each summer I wonder why I don't have the place .' Possessed of a warm heart and an active social conscience as well as the gift of organisation. In some strange way she had become attuned to his moods. flushed. both officers in the New Zealand Air Force. an unsatisfactory ending for Janey. and she could not ask. as evidenced by the fact that she was working in her small immaculate garden on one of the hottest days Auckland had ever experienced. her lashes drooping to cover the golden eyes. He became the tolerant adult escorting a young child. shrewd eyes resting first on the tanned. The shutters were down. She lived in a town house. but she did not know how or why. she came towards them. One look at the green-grey opacity of his glance told her that. The architect had given it a quality of fantasy which should have been incongruous but blended perfectly with the elegant old homes which surrounded it. then flitting on to Janey.' the older woman smiled. kissing her niece. she had found herself heading an organisation which helped refugee children all over the world.' Catherine remarked. an elegant little building in a complex which always made Janey think of a fairy tale. She could not help feeling that in some way she had disappointed him. I think. yet she would have known even had she not seen him. Stripping the gloves from her hands.' Catherine Singer was a widow with two grown-up sons. Do come in and I'll give you some lunch. 'My dear. Aunt Catherine was gardening when they arrived. 'It's cooler out than in. It involved a lot of travelling. amused in a mocking way which made her feel gauche and angry.
then showed Theo where the other bathroom was. 'No.' 'Good. when Janey emerged fresh and newly lipsticked. I must have grown out of them. I think. As she took the sherry Theo poured for her Janey wished she had just( a little of her aunt's poise. I don't get many headaches now. How dared he grin like a Cheshire cat at her aunt's innocent words? She knew as clearly as if he had spoken that he was thinking of that afternoon at Sandy Bay when she had done some . And Theo's. for Catherine's was a kindly eye while Theo found much to amuse him in the squirms of the people he put under the microscope.' Acutely aware of Theo's sardonic smile. 'I think you must have stopped growing at last. In this setting he was completely at home as Janey could never be. Ten minutes later. but normally this enervating heat lasts for such a short time it doesn't seem worth it. There was a difference. she heard Catherine talking to Theo on the terrace. Jane. sophisticated and with the discerning eye which saw so easily beneath the surface.air-conditioned.' Catherine commented. 'You're very quiet. if it came to that. as though you're growing into yourself.' Directing Janey to the bathroom off the main bedroom. she ordered her to wash.' The blue glance was penetrating but kind. They appeared to be on the best of terms. Damn him! she thought frustratedly. After a moment or two the reason for this was quite apparent. You look well. dear?' Janey flushed. At one stage I thought you were going to hit six feet if you kept on at the rate you started. both he and Catherine were the same sort of people. Janey could not prevent a slight flush across the high bones of her cheeks. 'Have you a headache. Jane.' 'I hope so.
Her flush deepened. American. even more flushed by the compliment.' she said lightly. some rapid Chinese and Japanese from superbly groomed Asians. Remember the time I tripped and fell into the buffet dinner you'd carefully set out on the table?* Catherine laughed comfortably. Uneasy but unable to understand why.' she commented. I'll show you some of my favourite shops. her smile a gleam of mischief. so I must be gaining some control over my limbs. Australian.' They went to Parnell Village.stricken countenance than the one that peered at me through the remnants of the rice salad!' She turned to Theo. encompassing him in the warmth of their reminiscences. but Jane was like a colt. 'Come on. an enchanting spot where old houses had been converted into small specialty shops with a loving attention to detail which had brought its own reward of beauty. but she was not going to give Aunt Catherine any reason to wonder or surmise.' her aunt finished briskly. with nothing but the promise of future grace. Janey prowled the living room until her aunt decided to take her shopping. 'I can now manage my arms and legs if I concentrate. 'Penny always reminded me of a cat.rapid maturing in his arms.' The sharp blue eyes moved back to Janey's face. 'I'm glad to see that the promise is being fulfilled. 'Now I suggest we have lunch before it melts away. all arms and legs every which way. 'Anything to stop that attack of the jitters. As she admired the exotic goods for sale Janey heard several different accents. 'At least. very sinuous and smooth-flowing. bestowing one last penetrating scrutiny on Janey before smiling and wishing her good luck in her interview.' After lunch Theo left. It appeared that Parnell Village was one of the sights of . I can move through a room without knocking things over. 'I remember—only too vividly! I don't think I've ever seen a more horror.
Auckland. for they appeared more interested in her school reports than in her! But over a cup of coffee they chatted. but believe me. 'you're honest! I doubt if any girl ever set her heart on a career as a typist. two women and a man. Janey caught sight of it high on its hill above Auckland. who set her at ease instantly. and I hope that the knowledge of how to organise yourself will always be valuable. Jane. 'We haven't time today. Even if you never work in ah office you'll find your typing of great use.' The interview was nothing like the ordeal which Janey had expected. there are very many openings for anyone who has the skills we intend to teach you if you're accepted. . There were three people. dinner at her favourite restaurant and then the theatre for a performance of Brecht's Caucasian Chalk Circle. 'Tomorrow. laughing at the wistful expression on her niece's face. explaining what life would be like at the business college.' one of the women remarked cheerfully. Janey came out of the interview room in a reasonably confident frame of mind. asking her much the same questions as Theo had set her and receiving much the same answers.' said Aunt Catherine. In some ways it seemed just a formality. able to enjoy her browse through the Museum and even look forward to the special treat Aunt Catherine promised her. 'At least. along with the classical splendours of the Museum erected in memory of those who had died in the world wars. a white-colonnaded facade which protected a magnificent collection of Pacific art and artefacts.' All in all. after the interview.
on the way down? No doubt.' Janey muttered.' 'Oh dear. 'Nobody is staring at you. wishing rather wistfully that she possessed the kind of integral self. would* know exactly how to deal with Theo Carrington. Do you want to order for yourself?' 'No. Aunt Catherine had helped her with her make-up. softly lit to flatter but bright enough so that one could see what one was eating. she thought.' As her aunt and the rather sour waiter conferred over the menu Janey looked around her. but you had a kind of waiting stillness which seemed to expect some adverse reaction. who had no ideas of how to cope with him! What exactly had he intended to convey in that conversation as they climbed the Brynderwyns. you order for me. dear. so she did not stand out in the assembly of beautifully groomed women.assurance which was so much a part of the people here.The restaurant was a very elegant one. Even Penny. no doubt other women would have known what he was saying.' said Aunt Catherine. although he hurt her. uneasily awarethat the long green dress she wore made her look taller and thinner than she had ever appeared before. but to Janey Bowden who only loved him with all of her heart. reading her niece's mind with extraordinary clearness. her barrier between fairyland and the world. 'You look very nice. Any one of the women. But not Janey Bowden. but there could be no doubt that of * all the women there she was the least fashionably dressed. even Aunt Catherine. he was a complete enigma. Janey felt rather gauche. 'Was I casting hunted glances over my shoulder?' 'No. had understood his method of dealing with the situation. . her eyes fixed rather enviously on the exquisite profile of the woman at the table next to them.
So she knew. but a codeine soon fixed that and when Theo arrived she was ready for him. after the first shock Janey didn't mind too much. Aunt Catherine waved goodbye. her father had always said that his sister was very sharp. Janey dragged her eyes away from the smooth perfection of the woman's features. wand-slim and fragile in a breathless dress of black chiffon. ankle-length and superbly cut to reveal the long graceful lines of her body. 'Very much. After that it was hard for Janey to behave normally. somewhat heavy-eyed but outwardly serene. 'Enjoy yourself last night?' Theo asked casually as he passed a huge double-decked cattle truck.Which was what made it seem so unfair when he came' into the room only a few moments later. escorting a woman who was the epitome of all that Janey envied. She was tall. and sat through the play and drank coffee at home and went to bed and even went to sleep. especially as it was quite obvious that Catherine had no intention of discussing the subject unless Janey began it. They made polite conversation until they were free of the city and driving through the rich pastoral and coastal scenery which extends far to the north of Auckland. but somehow she talked and laughed and ate. Theo saw them and lifted a hand in salute. Did you?' . Janey nodded. She woke the next morning with a raging headache. Theo swung the car out of the quiet driveway into the hurly. his smile curiously set. Well. satisfied smile and the slanted dark eyes to meet her aunt's gaze. And she saw there compassion and understanding. her sleepy.burly of the traffic and the distance ahead stretched out like eternity.
Not exactly a compliment.' The thought of being discussed by Theo and his woman made Janey so furious that she could hardly think.' Try as she might Janey could not prevent the note of envy which insinuated itself into the words. Theo laughed.' It seemed to be a time for revelations. With every word softly clear she murmured. She's an interior decorator. because he stabbed a swift glance at her.' he said blandly. ' Very much. He . 'I wonder what it is that brings out the worst in both of you towards the other? It's not like Thora to savage a schoolgirl.Perhaps some note in her voice revealed tension.' 'She's very beautiful. and you're not normally poisonous towards members of your own sex. and Theo had not been fending her off. Anger took away some of the pain and sharpened her wits. the few times Janey had looked at them Thora Bradley had been quite openly seducing him with her ravishing eyes and smile. she thought waspishly. 'She thought you looked sweet and wholesome. coming from Thora.' 'Claws.' he jibed. the girl—woman—you were with?' 'Yes. more woman than girl—Thora Bradley. There had been no doubt that they knew each other intimately. 'Did you like Thora?' 'Thora? Oh. Until that moment Janey had been reasonably sure that he had no idea how she felt about him. T should imagine it's a long time since Miss Bradley has had much to do with anything either wholesome or sweet. the deep tones emphasising the word with savage distinctness.
I think you'd like her. Worst than that. But with the humiliation came pride and a gritty defiance which forced her chin out and a sparkle into her eyes. Humiliation so searing that she felt as though it would brand her for life made it impossible for her to speak for a moment. of course. 'Aunt Catherine does a Jot of charity work.' 'Perhaps. so there would be nothing unusual in that. so that they gleamed beneath her dark lashes like glowing amber. that he found her love as amusing and of as little account in his life as he apparently found the Bradley woman's. Your aunt is quite well known in Auckland.' 'So does my mama. apparently. Janey decided that it would be better to go along with it.' 'Does she?' But Janey was not going to allow herself to be lured into showing any interest in his family.' He lifted a sardonic eyebrow at her. haven't you?' This light. 'Perhaps because we're the exact opposite of each other. My mother works on several committees with her. 'What did she think of Aunt Catherine?' 'She admires her. 'What a mulish wench you are! Why shouldn't you like my mother? She's much nicer than I am. 'You told me once that postcards weren't .' she said sweetly. But Thora Bradley had quite openly been in love with him and that last remark could only mean that he knew that Janey was too. But most women would find Theo desirable. teasing mood was hard to resist.would have been a fool not to know that physically she was aware of him. and on occasions you've liked me. Theo was no fool and her reactions when he kissed her had been only too revealing.
' 'Oh!' There was nothing else she could say.' He laughed at that. How's the book coming on?' 'One of these days I'll refuse to follow your lead when you change the subject. do you think you'll be accepted for this business course?' 'I think so. 'They said that at least I was honest. why should I? But that did stick in my mind. and she was too busy erecting an impregnable wall around her heart to be able to ask him with any degree of casual interest.' 'Not put off by lack of enthusiasm?' 'No. Even if your lips tell lies your eyes give you away.' 'Do you remember everything I said to you?' Yes.' he said grimly. but—'No. 'Tell me.' she said. However.' she answered a little morosely. That's one of your most endearing characteristics. It is not.' 'Not? Oh. inspiration has not fled. and I love them. has inspiration fled?' 'No. They appeared quite pleased with my reports. Let's say something else has got in the way. He was not going to tell her what the stumbling block was. 'So you see we would have nothing in common. 'True. So you're definitely going to do as Penny suggests?' . 'Oh! is about it.' he said abruptly. 'No. so I'll answer that.her style. or that incredibly easily aroused blush. I feel in a kindly mood. Jane. said her heart. his lean hand pushing the gear lever into place as they began on a steep hill.
' she said crisply. especially a test match between England and New Zealand when she felt her dual heritage keenly.' he said softly. They must be about to start. hut she felt that in some way Theo was using the radio as a defence. 'Do you mind? The test match has reached a rather interesting stage. 'Well. The big red water tanker became a common sight as it laboured up the hill with water for those whose supplies had failed. One stream ran dry when .It seemed a heaven-sent opportunity to make it quite clear that even though she might have been foolish enough to fall in love with him she was not going to let such an adolescent emotion stand in the way of her life. wanting both sides to win. and switched the radio on.' And felt forlorn as though someone had torn the heart from her body and thrown it into an abyss. he must know now that she was fighting the love he had aroused in her. she thought as the commentator's urbane voice filled the car. The incredible weather still held. But at least.' Janey was interested in cricket too. He should see that she was not going to moon over him like that revolting Thora Bradley! 'Yes. and as the tutorial year began in ten days' time things began to get hectic. or a barrier which shut her off from him. He would not be able to compare her with Thora Bradley who no doubt signified her love for him in the most basic of ways after they had dined last night! The picture this aroused in her mind filled her with such anguish that she stared resolutely out into the sundrenched-landscape and concentrated on the cricket with a determination which deserved a better cause. so that's that. as if to himself. 'Quite definitely. Within a week the College had written to notify her of their acceptance of her application.
When you're away what makes you think of Awakopu. 'I don't want to go. Just a little backwater.' 'Nobody does. It weaves itself into the very fibre of our lives.orchardists and market gardeners made too great a call on its capacity. though. Janey?' 'A kind of marae of the heart.' 'No. market gardens and farms.' she answered softly. I guess not. 'Well. there was a public meeting and even the holidaymakers began to look a little perturbed. idiot girl. and yet it has a spell that never leaves us. 'A resting place. A funny place. Sometimes when the wind is from the sea you get a strong tang of salt in the air. a few shops.' he said at last. 'We all do. That sort of chokes things up a bit. What about you?' 'A very still night and a dog barking over a hill. an estuary and some beaches. Janey looked at the lighted porthole of Toroa and answered him as best she could. Sam came over to see Janey. Sam promising to see a lot of her when 'varsity started again. A home place. One long hot evening as the stars twinkled like diamonds on purple velvet and the sky was still green in the west they sat talking. gum trees and casuarinas and seagulls. Sam?' 'A eucalyptus tree against a blue sky.' . 'Big he-man Sam has been known to cough vigorously several times when gum trees show up silhouetted against the sky. a few orchards. her decision. this Awakopu. you shouldn't be able to indulge in too many orgies of homesickness when you're in the big smoke because there you can't hear dogs for the noise of traffic. And with Penny and me down there it won't be quite so bad.' Janey said softly. What is it. Janey.' he said promptly. Sam. 'You'll get homesick. I'll tell you one thing. but home is always here. filled with enthusiasm at .' He chuckled companionably and squeezed her hand.
A surging need for him almost smothered her. Sam must have heard her tiny sob. silly girl. blocking her throat as the realisation of just how empty it was going to be without Theo struck her. homesick. She felt the weight of all the dull. 'Homesickness strikes when you've left home.'Can you smell it above the tang of petrol?' Janey's voice was light and casual. away from the freedom and innocence of childhood. but all too soon even that illusion would-be gone. Come on inside or your mother will think I've been upsetting you. almost as if nothing mattered any more. Salt tears scalded her eyes.' he said softly. away from Theo. but the knowledge of him. 'Hey.' . longing years in her chest. away from Awakopu and her family. The Sam who was now tracing a line in the palm of her hand was not the Sam of a year ago and if she saw anything of him in Auckland he would demand more of her than friendship. the incredible dearness of him. It was no use trying to recapture any of it. While Toroa was in the basin and she was at home she had at least the illusion of closeness. She was being borne along by a current too Strong to resist. putting his arm around her shoulder to draw her close to him. she did not want his caresses or his lovemaking.
Janey had looked down at the circle of light and wondered why he had to write so late at night. About twenty or so. often. unable to sleep. Partying was the last thing she felt like doing. impatiently for her.' Janey said amiably. those mocking.' 'O. He had been up once for dinner and had looked tired. her tone implied. but her daughter's desire to save her work had not been well received. One week to go. Without volition her gaze strayed to the windows. 'We gave Penny a party to say goodbye when she set off for 'varsity and we're going to do the same for you. adding with a rather twisted smile.' 'Get away with you!' Joy retorted in lofty tones.*' There had been lines around his eyes. and then if you want to you can dance in the pool room. 'But don't wear yourself out doing too much.K. Mum.' said Joy. Go and make that list.' Janey trailed away into the dimness of her bedroom. speculative. 'What kind of party do you prefer?' Janey capitulated. his splendid vitality dimmed. Theo had been busy these last days. How about a barbecue?' 'Lovely. aloof eyes which had met hers with .. There was Toroa. Chops and sausages are all we need. don't be silly. dear. but it appeared that her mother had set her heart on some small happening to mark Janey's departure from home. Janey. Her mother was looking pale with the heat. Well have swimming and the barbecue. Mum.' Whether you want it or not. sleek and graceful against the green waters of the basin. 'Chops and sausages indeed! We can do much better than that.CHAPTER EIGHT 'Now. now you go away and make out a list of people you want to invite. 'Very well. you silly girl.
so Penny had been right. Her heart had been in her eyes. betraying her. Immeasurably hurt. Lucky Penny! Well. lavender-strewn memory. For Penny the quick. to take second best if she wished to marry and have children. Occasionally she wondered if she was doomed to love him for ever. for Janey no recognition of her emotions. and who could blame him? Certainly not Janey. Could it be that somehow she had impinged on him? Then common sense came to her aid. Once or twice. of no relevance to the present. He had known exactly what he was doing and she had won his respect by her uncomplaining acceptance of his rules. She supposed she should be thankful that he had let her down so lightly.a complete lack of emotion as though she was a part of his past. for his withdrawal had begun then. a kindly refusal to let her involve herself with him. Perhaps she would -be when this ache had ceased being a permanent par? of her heart and her love had faded into a dim. and the thought filled her with horror. Theo's glance had gleamed with appreciation and what appeared to be respect. It was stupid and futile to spend her . For a moment she allowed herself to dwell on that fact. who thought she knew him well enough to be quite certain that such gentleness was not entirely in character. in the small hours of the morning Janey thought Theo's experience could be seen in the way he had handled them both. to have to thrust his memory forcibly from her so that she didn't make' comparisons. He must have seen the danger signals that day at Sandy Bay. clean break. even though she had not herself known what emotion it was which held her in thrall. and watched Penny behave as naturally as though he had never kissed her or made her cry. And so he had proceeded to disentangle himself from the situation. But wishing that she was more like Penny wasn't going to help matters. Janey had retreated behind her usual mask of reserve. it was nearly over now.
I wonder if there's a tropical storm on its way?' 'If it brings rain with it I would welcome it. Did you know that the Martins' bore has run dry? Jim Martin told me yesterday that he's had to truck in water for the house. 'Let's face it.' he said. but they're not usually so hot or so dry as this one has been. 'Lord. I must confess I shouldn't like to endure another one like it. tapping the barometer. it's fallen quite dramatically since yesterday.time in daydreaming. but as he's no reservoir the orchard will just have to look after itself. for apart from sexual attraction what on earth could a worldly.' Ian looked up from the newspaper. so Paul announced when he took the first of his temperature readings. which pervaded her bones. I hate to think where the water table is. Even if Theo had found some small affection for her within himself he would be the first to see that it would never do. 'Something must be going to happen. Northland is subtropical. infected with a curious restlessness. clever man like him have in common with an adolescent who had not even beauty to recommend her? If Penny had been unable to make any impression on him there was no hope for Janey at all. she begun to make her list.' Penny put in knowledgeably. The next day dawned hotter than any they had experienced so far. but it's hot! I think this has been the most trying summer I've ever endured.' Janey got up and wandered over to the window. Lazily drawing a sheet of scrap paper towards her. Perhaps it was the tropical . 'It says here that this is a thirty-year drought. so the summers are lovely and warm.' 'The trouble is that you don't really expect weeks and weeks of drought. 'Look.' joy said quietly.
' 'O. There was laughter and the yells of children.' Joy mused. was in full swing.' 'You'll end up well over six feet.K. as some of the locals termed the holidaymakers. During the holidays breakfast tended to be a little later than normal.' 'Couple of chaps in my form are there already. you can't have grown out of those shorts already!' 'Well.' He gave proof of his rapid attainment of maturity by a grin and the comment. Joy. 'That big blue ketch next to Toroa has two of the nicest little water-babies I've ever seen. darkly tanned men and their equally brown . her mother looked scandalised and Ian apparently did not hear* although Janey was almost certain that his lips twitched before folding firmly into a straight line. too soon. Where are you going. I'll come with you. startling them all with the wildness of her blue eyes. 'Not. Today the carnival. You'll have to move one or the other. but she wanted to stretch and run and indulge in violent activity: Shai seemed to feel the same. 'That scarlet lily of yours is out. the big one behind the Montezuma rose. The colours clash violently…' Neither brother nor sister said anything as they walked down the footpath towards the wharf.' He grinned with complete lack of repentance. I have. He said merely.storm. I hope.. With a ringing call she leapt from Penny's lap on to the floor. Janey?' 'I'll go down and see if I can catch something for Shai. I can't help growing. if there was one.' Penny laughed. 'I wonder if she wants some fish.' Joy told him. Paul dear. 'She's been behaving very oddly lately. Oh. Mum.
grinning with the open enthusiasm of the young.water sailing. although there were fewer of these old boats each year. She's built for blue.' Paul was unashamedly pleased to see him. or so it seemed to Janey. but between them they managed quite a good haul. but Toroa stood out like a seagull among the ducks. 'Hi.women taking on supplies or just stretching their legs after long days spent at sea. So of course Theo's voice from behind was a shock. Toroa is for real. It could have been wishful thinking. Ah!' He hauled up the silvery sprat. because of the constant interference by people rowing ashore and boats moving to and fro the fish were not eager to bite. Theo.' Paul commented. although there had been a prickle of awareness along her nerve ends for some seconds past. but she got so excited she let it go.' 'Oh. I think. 'You've come too late to see the monster. The basin was crowded with craft of all sizes from the large and very opulent to narrow. popped it into the yellow plastic bucket and after re-baiting dropped his hook into the murky green-brown of the river water. either. Not just to Janey. He must have been watching them. barely cabined 'mulleties'. 'These others are obviously for pleasure. They fished silently for some time.' .' 'Perhaps because she's a home. more than that. 'She looks businesslike. Janey had placed herself so that she could not see Toroa unless she turned her head. Janey got one about a foot long. you can see it in her lines.
then he smiled and held out a hand to her. instead of faded blue denim shorts and rubber thongs. 'I'll take your gear home. 'It's beautiful. wished that she wore a smart green pants suit like the girl who was looking at Theo with such undisguised interest. but that was exactly what she did.' Paul offered.' . put her into the runabout and started the engine. 'Come and spend the day with me.'The one that got away. and a white cotton shirt with rolled-up sleeves and its bottom button missing. 'Like it?' She nodded. but this afternoon I'm going surfing. of course. sheer and unadulterated madness to take his hand and nod. 'Come on in.' he invited. He drew Janey down the steps. for in spite of its compactness there was more than a little luxury. No wonder you don't need a house. 'You can make lunch for us.' 'Thank you. Janey. headed it towards Toroa.' Janey wished she could say something.' Theo's glance sharpened into so piercing a scrutiny that she found it hard to bear. then with his usual skill. Theo. But Theo did not even look at the girl in the pants suit. when they got there. Ill tell Mum where you are.' It was the first time she had been in the cabin and her expression was marked by wonder. Td like to go with you.' It was madness. dank and cool beneath her feet.
I'll grant that men have their fair share. but it seemed that Theo rarely pulled the minuscule curtains across. and with a smile at her. it's finished.' . then said: 'There's more cucumbers and some ham. the portholes were curtained. Somewhat chastened by the withdrawal in his voice.' 'Shall I make coffee in this thermos?' 'Hot water. you don't take milk. 'You wouldn't be a woman if you didn't want to see over the rest of the place. Janey looked at it. Come on!' The main cabin was carpeted and wood-panelled.' 'Neither do I. 'I'll get it away later.When she had finished he hefted the bin and looked speculatively at her. found tomatoes and fruit in a small pantry. then rapidly packed them in an insulated bin. 'O. as though he had almost made up his mind to say something and then changed it. do you?' 'No.' said Theo. 'There's the galley. Beneath one was a table with a typewriter on it and a box. also cold meat and oranges. and dumped the bin on the table.. Take a look in the fridge' and get out what you need. Janey took out butter and cheese. a soft satisfied chuckle. Theo dumped in three cans of beer. 'Yes.' The refrigerator was powered by electricity. and pack instant coffee. saw that it was taped and wound with string. before he said abruptly.K.' . two of lemonade. answering her unspoken question. so the boat had a generator.' 'Is curiosity a characteristic only of women?' He laughed then.There was an odd pause.
' His closeness was too oppressive. And lots of storage space for food on a long voyage. striving desperately for control. but he did not move and she had to stop. and without stopping she went up the steps into the cockpit. and Theo would be a part of her past. she fought down rising panic. 'Where do you sleep?' she asked. Closing her eyes for a moment. she could feel Toroa rock slightly as he moved about. Soon she would be in Auckland. 'In the main cabin.' There was a tiny bathroom. Come on. two pipe berths and a sail locker. 'Yes. But it leaves me empty.' 'It is. but he stepped aside into the bathroom and let her through. Fortunately he appeared to have things to do below. He shrugged slightly. a wet clothes locker and a hanging locker. and by the time he came up with the bin of food she was once more in full control of herself. Blindly Janey turned. and further up towards the bow.'It must be a relief.' It was barely above a whisper. She decided to make today as perfect as possible. drawing deep breaths of the hot sticky air when at last she got there. The sofa makes up into a bed. and all that she would have of him would be the remembrance of his kisses and today. a golden memory to treasure when this summer was gone. Her stupidity in agreeing to spend the day with him struck* her like a hammer blow. forward. Or as much in control of herself as she could be when she was with Theo. drained. . 'Seen enough?' he mocked.
for when she smiled her slow smile of pleasure he touched her cheek and said nothing. I don't suppose they ever bother with this place. It's a long way from the homestead. It was there that she had first realised that Theo was beginning to make an impression on her heart. saying little. spreading a rug out on the grass. it seemed that Theo wanted to recapture the delight as much as she did. and a woodpigeon flew across from one ancient pohutukawa to another. If I were the Matthews and I owned the place. 'It's beautiful. almost deafening Janey until her ears became accustomed to the sound and relegated it to the background. A cautious.' she said softly as they waded ashore.' Theo returned. the rose-pink. It had been an afternoon snatched from time. although the shrewd glance which accompanied the caress was understanding. the notes belling out over the bay.' . 'And they have a beautiful bay at their doorstep. singing gladness ran like wildfire through Janey's veins when she realised that Theo was taking her to the small bay where they had spent their happy afternoon. and that only banalities. Here she had told him about her fancy of fitting a house into a landscape she loved and he had dazzled her with stories of his voyages just as Othello had won Desdemona with tales of his exploits in the wars. halfmoon of sand where pohutukawas had created a crimson carpet and the bush rose protectively behind. It had been too early for the cicadas before Christmas. but now they shrilled their tiny zithers from every branch of every tree. It's just enchanting.They slipped quietly downstream. I'd be here every day. high in the hill at the back. its plump white breast gleaming in the sunlight.' As if to set a seal on enchantment on the day a tui called.
But the enchantment held. headlands and found a cave which was dirty and smelt very strongly of penguins. suddenly^ shy and wary. an hour later saw them still wrangling cheerfully over the placing of a study. They argued cheerfully. 'A study is not a necessity.'Probably not.' She sat down on the rug.' She defended her choice with enthusiasm. Look at the rushes. walked around one of the. admit it. then remembrance flooded back as she met the teasing laughter in his eyes. forgot everything but her pleasure at being with him. A study is old. That way you'd get a glorious view of the sea without having to lop any branches off the pohutukawas. 'Dad does quite well without one. 'Oh. Janey stared at him. Then they explored between the flax bushes on the little plain behind the beach. 'Have you finished your house yet?' 'My house?' Bewildered. that house! No. On their way back Theo asked casually.' Janey said provocatively.' .' 'Ah.' 'There speaks a Women's Libber!' he retorted swiftly. 'You hate to think that a man might need to be alone sometimes. She forgot that he had made love to Penny and Phyl Talbot. and made their way beside the creek to find its source. Come on now. not yet. 'but I'm almost certain that this place floods in winter. a spring in a tiny valley where the trees were thick and old. But I did decide that the living room should go here.' he objected gravely. and she was laughing at a joke he had cracked. Within a few minutes he had put her completely at ease.fashioned and ostentatious.
' he said lightly. Jane. but before she could say anything Theo stepped back. whether you think it necessary or not. always practical. to push him away. Perhaps he slept. and said coolly. fixed on her with what seemed to be hungry intensity. but his eyes were open. After lunch she felt sleepy. but from the north clouds had come down. resisting the urge to get to her feet. .Janey felt his hand on her shoulder and turned. perhaps because he felt nothing so earth-shaking himself.hearted banter there were other. 'So I insist on a study. laughing. would decide to go. But he made it easy for her to recover her equilibrium. But the increasing heat sent rivulets of sweat down her back and between her breasts and at last she rolled over and sat up. his expression shuttered. Certainly Janey did. 'You look a very hot Sleeping Beauty. Once she was awake Theo. Hungry?' Shaken by this reminder that beneath the light. It was still breathlessly hot. moving slowly but inexorably. He was lying in exactly the same position. and she didn't want to leave this place. she could only nod. deeper and more primitive emotions. Theo lay on his back with his hands clasped behind his head and his eyes closed against the heat of the sun. There was a moment of tension so stark that it drove the breath from her lungs. Janey lay still for a long time. When she awoke it was well into the afternoon and the weather was showing signs of deterioration. and over the land and sea lay the eerie green light which presaged a thunderstorm.
although whether we'll get it is a moot point.' Janey knew she sounded prim. It will be a thunderstorm. 'Yes. That cloud isn't moving very fast. 'It's impossible! Do you think it's going to rain. was captured by his and held. the lean contours of his face filling her eyes to the exclusion of all else. plenty of people bathed in the nude. 'I didn't bring anything to swim in. do you trust me?' Her glance wavered. The scar above his brow gleamed bone-white in the odd. and you know how erratic they are. even sunbathed in the nude. blast it. oppressive light. 'No. 'Jane. a smile twisting the compressed line of his lips.' he said. If you're so hot why don't you go for a swim? We have time. Theo?' 'Probably. thank you. For a long moment she stared at him. and on his cruel mouth there was a set.' She frowned.Obviously all after-effect of sleep was a tendency to hallucinate.' she whispered. steady smile. Aloud she said. 'Then you know I won't harm you. rolling over to possess himself of her hands. but as she ducked her head to avoid his glance she felt extremely gauche and naive. 'Strip off and go in without clothes.' .' His glance mocked her. After all. remembering as he must those island beauties who thought bathing suits a distinct waste of time! 'Jane. and no doubt Theo considered it a perfectly normal and natural way of behaving.' he said. Janey thought wryly.
a bubble of anticipation forcing itself into the pit of her stomach. but apparently she had! And a vigorous mental scolding produced no effect but to deepen her anger at herself and at him.' . At first this pleased her. in comparison to the sticky humidity of the air it felt cool against her skin. and swam towards her with his efficient crawl stroke. hanging them neatly from well-placed twigs.'Yes. At last she called out. Theo swam some distance away from her. 'I've brought a suit.' So she took off her clothes in the shade of one of the pohutukawas. If you like to take your clothes off under the trees I promise not to look until you're in the water. It was a gentle kiss and when it was over he held her face between his hands and said through lips which barely moved. He was smiling as he came up to her. Jane. 'I'm going in.' he said. So this is goodbye.' *Wait a minute. set smile which did not alter until his mouth closed over hers and she shut her eyes at the fire in his devouring glance. It was incredible that she should have hoped he would make some recognition of the fact that she was naked. Although it was warm.' He released her hands and stood up. Janey trod water and waited. towering above her as she knelt on the rug. 'I'm leaving Awakopu tomorrow. and ran down to the water. that devilish. cold and frightened yet filled with an exultation which seemed groundless but had permeated her whole being.' he said.' 'Good. but after ten minutes or so she was horrified to discover that her most prominent emotion was chagrin that he should treat her so chivalrously.
' Before he did so he looked down into the innocent.' He pushed her away. 'Let me go.' 'How do I know that?' she asked steadily. You don't know what sort of man I am. tragic heartbreak of her expression and said harshly. A leopard doesn't change his spots. 'Don't. at least I won't have the rape of a schoolgirl on my conscience. Jane. just a savage.' he said roughly. and he took her in his arms again. If—if I went mad and took what you offered. 'Go on. but not now. or I with ten years' less experience. it might have worked. Instead she looked up into his face. her heart in her eyes. but --' 'I do. 'You soon would. Theo.' . lifting to push him away with arms which had remained at her side during the whole incident. shaken by the cold condemnation in his tones. do you think after the first pleasure in initiating you into the delights of sex had faded that I would remain faithful to you?' 'I don't know. frightening intensity. 'Cry or swear at me or kick me—anything but that look of mute despair. Jane. I've lost count of the number of women I've made love to. but you've given it to the wrong man. 'I don't know.' she said. 'Love like yours is selfless.' she managed. believe me.If he hadn't held her upright she thought she would have sunk beneath the water and never risen again.' 'I'm sorry. if I married you. It's better this way. Jane. There was no mirth in his smile. holding her in a clasp which had nothing of passioti in it in spite of the .fact that they were almost as close as lovers. get ashore and dressed before I tell myself I'm a quixotic fool and toss out the last little bit of chivalry left in me. 'Had you been ten years older. and many of them I've left weeping.
you fool!' And she did.' She smiled brightly. The rejection was so blatant that she was racked with pain. but he said viciously. and no animal called or stirred. When she got back to the beach Theo was folding the rug. pressing the wedge of her face affectionately against his cheek while her blue eyes blazed. turned his back on her and drank it down in one gulp. his voice cool and lacking emotion. all legs and arms with sea-lank hair and strange deep golden eyes. for there had been enough primitive lust in his expression to thoroughly terrify her. Good sailing. 'We'd better get going. but she set her feet steadily into the soft sand. . Theo. As she came shyly towards him he pulled the tab from a can of beer. Then she sprang into Janey's arms. Over the entire landscape lay that eerie green light. Even the ubiquitous cicadas had fallen quiet.Janey trod water. she rubbed herself dry and dragged her clothes over her damp skin. They clung and had to be tugged into place.' he said. no expression visible on the carved mask that was his face. Calling anxiously from the steps. 'Goodbye. Except Shai. Jane. a tall thin girl. 'That cloud has started to move up quickly.' he said quietly. giving the parched hills and lawns a spurious luxuriance.' The cloud had driven away the last vestige of blue sky by the time the runabout reached the wharf in the basin. It was very still. who met them. 'Goodbye. 'Move. He had left a towel beside her clothes. she surprised Janey by springing on to Theo's shoulder and nibbling his chin. wiping his mouth with the back of his hand. shivering with reaction.
look at me! Phyl is head over heels in love with him. clear and supremely confident. sophisticated man.' . Janey turned. Look at Phyl Talbot. and walked on up the hill. What on earth has Janey got that would attract him? I doubt if virginity as such would have any great appeal to a man like him. but she has precious little sex appeal and no sophistication. The engine sputtered into life.' And. At the risk of sounding conceited. He's absolutely devoted to her. and I have to keep a pretty tight rein on my heart. What on earth has Janey got that would appeal to him?' A muffled reply. Look—Theo is a mature. Theo is a cynic. from behind which came Penny's voice clear and ringing. the desire to make love. and Penny's laugh. or I'd be in the same boat. after a few moments: 'Mother. but he's no cad. seeking to devour any virgin who comes their way. I love Janey. Theo is a man of the world. but she's still a child. Especially not Theo. and the rest is icing. He probably prefers his sex partners experienced! Janey is a dear. for him the relations between the sexes comes down to one basic thing. the . and I'd be the last to run her down. she paused outside the kitchen door. Once home. Mum. He likes Janey.He sketched a mock-salute. but I'll bet you don't worry about her being with him. 'Darling Mother. 'Of course you have nothing to worry about. that's about all. or even trust. or fidelity. I should say Theo likes her because she so obviously hasn't fallen for him! It must the a refreshing change for him. Apparently she inspires liking—look at Sam. pushed the bow off from the piles and pulled the cord of the outboard. all men aren't ravening wolves. He doesn't believe in love. He likes his women to be sophisticated and beautiful. and he plays fair. quiescent cat huddled in her arms.
'If she did fall in love with him I'd say he'd treat her as gently as he could. Theo found something very attractive indeed in Janey. perhaps. because he had left so suddenly. He had had a hair-raising trip to Auckland. but When none was forthcoming Joy made no effort to intrude into her daughter's reserve. There followed the most agonising week of Janey's life. Penny could not have been more wrong. Mum. Janey thought wisely. Several times she caught her mother looking rather carefully at her. Perhaps Penny was indulging in a little bit of wishful thinking when she said that Janey had nothing to attract Theo. of course. her sister's heart had been slightly touched. a time of grief so shattering that she dared not give in to it in case it swamped her completely. Something had happened which made it imperative for him to leave without saying goodbye. but he despised himself for feeling it.Another murmur and then Penny's reply. dodging . but the emptiness pf the mooring place struck her like a blow over the heart. but a letter arrived explaining everything. so she forced herself to manufacture a smooth. He had been intending to go. The discovery that her sister was not always correct made her feel odd in a detached sort of way. They spoke about Theo. but not quite so soon. It seemed to work. she was barely able to see through the curtain of rain between the house and the basin. as if waiting for some signal. He likes her. It's as simple as that. smiling shell behind which no one was allowed. When she awoke in the morning the Toroa had gone. he said.' Janey looked gravely down at her interlaced fingers. And she likes him. Wonderment at first. With the taste of Theo's kisses on her mouth and the sound of his thickened voice still in her ears she knew that whatever the reason.
'And Jane is not?' But Penny looked curiously at her. I mean. Janey surprised everyone. Janey—Jane. are you? Childish.' 'Of course. He thanked them for their kindness. hot days. If they thought the urgent call away a little thin. we all will. but it had passed its midway point. Joy. but with nights which were marginally cooler.' Joy agreed. 'You aren't any more.' Ian grumbled. was too childish. The grass greened up beautifully. You've grown up. Janey. Summer was not over. and so Janey did not have to suffer the refined torture of hearing surmises about why he had left. by announcing that from here on she would only answer to Jane. I'll call you Jane from now on. The thunderstorms brought rain. Very well. I always feel that it stunts one's growth.' 'All my family seems to be growing up. the garden took a deep breath and cautiously set about blooming and growing once more and the weather settled down into the pattern as before. inches and inches of it. "Young Paul is almost taller than I am. and for the next two or three days everyone was extremely busy tidying up.thunderstorms. Janey— Jane is going away. 'It's a great pity to keep using a pet name after you grow up. but had got there in time. Theo Carrington. And he was theirs with affection. nobody said so. Won't be long before we're a couple of senior citizens with nothing to do but walk the dog. she said. Penny has gone. stops one from becoming truly adult. not the least herself. especially not this younger daughter who had changed so quickly.' . or what lay behind the smooth excuse. careful not to look too closely at anybody.
' Karen said ecstatically. . either as a back-up irrigation system. have you heard about Phyl Talbot?' 'No.They laughed. and yet it was quite common in New Zealand where private swimming pools were very useful. thinking over something Karen had told her in strictest confidence. 'I'm going to miss you madly. and when Sam became amorous afterwards she was able to head him off with a skill which left both of them a little bewildered. no one seemed to notice. She knew that Theo had been seeing a lot of the girl until he left. of course. but she was surprised at the dogged courage which she possessed. but Jane noticed that from now on her father began to treat her with the rather ponderous respect he accorded to Penny. watching as the guests swam in the light of the Hawaiian flares. It was a very successful party. All her friends enjoyed themselves immensely. Janey thought idly. Jay. The party and its preparation took up several of the remaining days and gave Janey something to think about as well as something to do. Hey. They had been sitting on the wide seat built around the trunk of the silk tree. At times she thought that her unhappiness was so intense that she could not carry on. not at all sure that she wanted to.' Janey said warily. she supposed. 'Super party. It had been the sort of scene which photographers use to illustrate the life of the very rich. or as a fire-fighting device for those homes which were a long way from a fire station. A kind of fortitude which seemed to come from nowhere. as did her family. And if the shadows in her eyes deepened. and she didn't want to hear anything about the glamorous Phyl. yet another sign of maturity. blotting out the gold. who apparently had more appeal than either of the Bowden sisters. But after she had gone to bed that night Janey lay awake.
"Oh. For a moment everything seemed faint and far away. If Karen had a fault it was that she was a gossip who liked to drag in every ramification of every subject. when common sense told you that absolutely nothing could make it move from its appointed place in your chest. If she fainted in front of Karen it would be all over the district within a week.' Janey sighed.' Apparently she had managed to infuse her voice with the correct amount of disgust. although Mum says they're nobody really. Apparently Mrs Talbot screeched and carried on. and God knew what conclusions some of the less charitable minds would draw from it. 'Well. shut up. 'Yes. "I'm pregnant. Just what the Sutherlands.K. Mum knows Mrs Sutherland through the Garden Circle. she wasn't quite certain! 'O.' Karen said with relish. All it . I'll keep to the subject. 'you know how snooty Mrs Talbot is. O. Mum. she's just had another baby. and they aren't snobbish at all. 'With the biggest tale-bearer in Awakopu listening." ' Funny how your heart could lurch and then go cold. so far away that Janey had to make a desperate clutch at her self-control.' she commented. 'A nice way to tell your mother. she said quite calmly. and Phyl got quite angry and said.. apparently Mrs Kirk was out at the Talbots' having coffee when Phyl came over all swimmy and when her mother asked her what the matter was. had to do with Phyl Talbot. whom everybody knew because they were one of the old landowning families..' Karen chuckled. It's no great deal. a little girl. all airs and graces because they've got money. for Karen raised her eyebrows and nodded wisely.'Well.K. The Sutherlands further down the coast at Whangatapu have pots of dough and that huge station.
thinking that a woman's hand could look like claws. stop that . to start off with. 'Well. either. dared not express. as she lay in her narrow bed staring at the darkened ceiling. Do you think that's why he left so quickly?' A cold rage gripped Janey's whole being with an emotion she could not.' 'Do you think so?' Karen was frightened by this. fit to rend and tear when the provocation was great enough. 'It must be Theo Carrington. but he doesn't seem the sort to be trapped into marriage by an old trick like that. she could feel the nausea and pain afresh. but now. I'll agree that it looks suspicious.' Karen nodded.' So Janey had done what she intended to. hasn't he? I'll remember that. 'I mean. keeping her voice as level and free from emotion as she could manage. Janey. He struck me as being pretty tough and he has a reputation to consider. just as Janey had intended. but Phyl didn't say so. I can just imagine him raking in damages and enjoying the whole process. Do you think he'll marry her? He didn't seem the type to get a girl into trouble and then leave her flat to me. . You knew him." What do you think of that?' 'I hope—I hope that for the baby's sake the father sees it her way. that's all. you don't know it was Theo. Very carefully she uncurled the fingers of her hand. her expression very serious but pleasurably shocked. Theo is quite definitely the sort of man who wouldn't hesitate to have someone up for libel or slander or whatever it is if he heard a rumour like that and it wasn't true. being an author. source of gossip. I think you're probably right.means is that the wedding will be a little sooner. 'Actually. and I can tell you something.' she pointed out. of course. Slowly she went on.
but she thought that at last she knew him a little.And suddenly it was gone. for she knew. perhaps someone she had turned to when she realised that Theo was not a prospect for marriage. He would not have seduced her or allowed himself to be seduced. And he had proved that he was too experienced a judge of women not to have recognised that beneath the surface sophistication and worldliness Phyl was just a neurotic girl looking for the affection her parents had never given her. enough to be convinced that he possessed the sort of integrity which would forbid him to use Phyl and then discard her. but she did know that it was not in him to play the betrayer. Why he had continued to see Phyl Janey didn't know. that Theo could not behave like that. . It was strange that she should be so confident about this. without even thinking about it. so poor Phyl's baby must belong to someone else.
He called it Simba.' her mother wrote. At about the same time Aunt Catherine decided that her position in the organisation necessitated a secretary. except for a brief visit to Awakopu to pick up one of his puppies he had rescued from the mud of the yacht basin. the one you liked. to take with him. who accepted it with delight and some trepidation. 'but was much the same as ever. but after a while she began to realise that she had suffered some form of imprinting.CHAPTER NINE So Janey went to Auckland and eventually discovered that life could possess flavour and tang again. It was better to try and forget him. During the next two years .' Janey bought all of his books. and chose the black puppy. It involved a considerable amount of travelling in the interests of refugee children and as she and Janey had discovered a mutual liking and respect for each other. but after the first reading she put them away and did not look at them again. Somewhat to her surprise Janey discovered that she enjoyed her subjects. who seemed to have disappeared off the face of the earth. it was entirely natural that she should offer the job to Janey. It was the sort of position which required far more of her than the ability to use a dictaphone and type neatly. Business college was fun and hard work. 'He looks tired. I asked him where he was off to and he said he had a fancy to circumnavigate Australia. Always the sight of a tall blond man made her lurch. It hurt too much to find his personality so vividly revealed on every page with all its complexity and combination of intelligence and ruthlessness. In her eyes the only man she could ever love was Theo Carrington. so I suppose we'll see some sort of book about that. as the scientists called it. and she was proud when she graduated head of her class.
laughing countenance to her parents. there's absolutely nothing like autumn up here. but it was the first time she had stayed for more than a few days. I mean—I'm sure you didn't tell me that the road up the coast was sealed I' Joy laughed softly. And at last in London she met a man. with Continental men-about-town and the heads of Muslim villages who believed that women were made purely for man's pleasure and the procreation of children. it is good to be back! Isn't it perfect weather? You know. 'Not that I expected the place to stand still while I was away. 'So you did. and rather saddened by them. furthermore. learned to enjoy coping with them. then became commonplace. while the . She learnt to cope with cholera and appalling injuries.' 'Pear. 'I did. It was not the first visit she had paid there since going away. 'I just thought the changes wouldn't be so great. hoping to exorcise Theo Carrington once and for all. Oh. The days are gloriously fine yet just a little crisp. Jane.' she explained to her parents as she swung gently in the hammock. In this time she ceased to be Janey and learned to think of herself as Jane Bowden. truly. earthquake-torn hovels to conventions at super-expensive hotels with a rapidity which at first startled Janey.' Jane turned a rueful. I told you that's where Karen and Mark live. who said he loved her and wanted to marry her. how about that huge subdivision at Kowhai Hill? I didn't expect that. 'I just didn't visualise it. she was astounded at the differences.' 'Well.they criss-crossed the world.' she marvelled. moving from filthy. Because she still carried another man's image engraved on her mind and heart she gave herself a holiday and came back to Awakopu.
'Tell me some more of the local gossip. and her Julian is absolutely besotted with her. does that look like the old Janey?' she teased. 'All rough and unpolished?' 'Hardly. Did you see her on your way through Auckland?' 'Yes. 'There. it's so good to be back!' 'It's good to have you back. 'We must have a quiet little get-together of all your friends—at least. then ran a casual hand through the sleek red-brown cap of her hair. those that are still here.nights are cool enough to sleep well and the stars—the stars are bigger than they are anywhere else in the world. Your Aunt Catherine seems to be running some sort of finishing school. . in his well-bred fashion. but I must say I'm glad you've learned to stand without hunching your shoulders. or that they will be when Penny's finished her degree. at least you were able to make it for Penny's. Karen looked lovely. I doubt if I'd have recognised you.' Jane invited. And the hibiscus flowers try to tell you that it's still summer. Still. but Joy could not break herself of the habit. She's lovelier than ever. tousling it into untidiness.' Jane grinned. 'I must say. a real spring bride. stretching a long arm out for a ripe peach.' Joy poured herself another cup of tea. It's a pity you missed their wedding.' Joy spoke briskly. Jane. and you've developed excellent clothes sense. ^ Paul complained bitterly when anyone fed his dog at the table. isn't she. perhaps to hide emotion. I know Karen and Mark would like to come. marriage certainly suits her. swiftly drop-ping a half-scone in Herod's direction. although she always looked guiltily around to make sure that no one noticed. for almost immediately she added. Oh. my dear.' her father said gruffly.' 'It's nice that they're both lawyers.
swinging long beautifully tanned legs over the side of the hammock. 'She refused to speak to Phyl until after the baby was born. 'Phyl and her husband have taken over the Talbots' place. but grandchildren are great healers of rifts. Phyl Talbot had married a month after Jane had left Awakopu. Not local fashion. poor man. and Phyl adores them both.' 'Well. well. beautifully tanned girl. her fine eyes appreciative as they rested on her daughter's slender figure. married a local boy in spite of her mother's opposition. in a sophisticated big-city way. as neither Phyl nor Dick want that sort of life. and I think that for the first time in her life she's really happy. She was a tall. but he's much better now. She's become a very good little mother and wife. sleek and well-groomed in a spectacular peacock blue sundress with gold sandals which made an elegant focal point of her tan. The child is the spitting image of Dick. She's devoted to him and quite determined to give Dick as many legs up the social ladder as are needed for him to become Phyl's equal in station It's rather funny.' 'And Mrs Talbot?' Joy laughed comfortably. giving the question a throw-away lack of importance. but she strained for the answer. but very definitely fashionable. . her father had a coronary. a happy ending to every story.' Joy murmured. 'Very well. but you only have to look at him to see that there was no truth in it at all. now.' Jane said lightly. Joy decided. Of course. there was that nasty gossip about the baby. really.' 'How are Phyl and her husband getting on?' Jane's voice was elaborately casual.'Nothing much has happened lately.
her face could stand comparison with most others. she had done that. learning how to appreciate fashion with all of its trickery and illusion yet with one basic fact at bottom. it was in the way she looked now. She didn't need to diet to keep her figure. Not for the first time she wondered if she was doomed to spend the rest of her life loving the one man she could not have. Crux Australis. And if that was so. if her longing to be worthy of Theo should they ever meet again had had tangible results. more deeply engraved. Her reward had been greater confidence in herself as a woman. everything she had become. the love of a good man. her hair-style was chosen for its chic as well as its ease of care. had been for Theo Carrington. Her movements were now graceful.Jane saw the expression on her mother's face and felt an absurd rush of pleasure. She had come home to exorcise him. If she cared to she could summon his face to her memory now. How very juvenile to be pleased that after all these years she should have her mother's admiration. after dinner. if her heart was irrecoverably Theo's. and perhaps. In London Stuart waited. Well. high in the sky above. could she marry Stuart and keep faith with him? . With Catherine's help she had carefully refined her taste. but self-discipline kept her wand-slim. then at the beautiful constellation which marked home for her. And her reward? That night. but she could not marry him when she knew that everything she had done. so vividly that it would seem as if she had only to turn and he would be beside her. for she had promised him an answer to his proposal very soon. but she had been here for three days now and instead of fading into nothingness his image in her heart seemed to be stronger. but how satisfying! If her two years in exile had done nothing else for her. she wandered out on to the terrace and stood staring at Orion. the desire to improve on nature. the Southern Cross.
Anything could have happened to the bay in two long years. picked out the patch of bush which marked the little cove and could see no signs of change. and there she would make her final decision. before pulling her father's binoculars out from their ease and putting them to her eyes. Perhaps she would find that the bush had been cut down. Sudden scalding tears filled her eyes. skirting the trees and disappearing behind the headland. Tomorrow she would take their runabout and go alone down to the tiny bay where she had built her dream home and Theo had told her that if he had not loved so many other women he might have loved her. built of stained wood with large areas of glass looking out over the rose-pink sands of the cove. a fishing net was draped over another. or the place had beep cut up for sections—or somehow desecrated. and to one side of the bay there was a wharf. so she wasted no time in' wakefulness after making her decision. An upturned dinghy rested against the trunk of one of the pohutukawas. It was not until she was half way across the inlet that she realised with a shock of dismay that someone had built there. From the front of the house great sliding glass doors opened out on to a terrace of . two upright oars leant against a gnarled trunk. With an angry gesture she pulled the tiller to turn the runabout away. So it was with some relief that she rounded the last curve in the river. built a large house underneath the pohutukawa trees. but it was with some trepidation that she set off down-river the next morning. but big enough to cope with a large launch. not very big. Her life with Catherine had taught her to sleep soundly whenever she got the chance. but on an impulse jerked it back again and cut the motor.Above her as the impartial stars wheeled slowly against the spangled path of the Milky Way and the dark blue of the sky she came to a decision. The house was long and low. From it a road ran back.
for the thyme plants between the flagstones were still tiny. Very slowly Jane put the glasses down. How callow she had been that summer. it had altered and deepened. It beckoned. The pleasant. astringent scent rose on the warm air as she trod silently across the terrace and in through the open sliding glass door. broken-hearted. Nothing had been altered. What little there was was beautiful. although some of them were flowering. she thought. It was beautiful. took one of the oars and standing. . The Chinese Goddess of Mercy smiled benignly back at her and Jane found herself recalling an occasion when he had spoken of his love of things Chinese. very new. Jane smiled as her fingers caressed the smooth. sculled the runabout in to the beach. There was very little furniture.sawn sandstone. for her imagination had not been able to encompass more than the building. it was her own house. Foolish to think that two years' absence had made any difference to her emotions. and on a low black table under a window a white porcelain Kuan-Yin. It was. it welcomed. exactly as she had planned it that long ago day in high summer before they had said farewell to each other. She realised that all along she had known that she could not marry Stuart. barely finished. Almost nothing in the house came as a surprise to her. her vision translated by a master into a dream of perfection and as familiar to her as her own hands. there were already low green plants between them softening the starkness. but that first realisation of love had been as irrevocable as birth and death. a Chinese lacquer screen. lilac or purple flowers held above the aromatic green and silver leaves. and yet she had loved Theo with all of the fervour of the very young. tiny pink. In winter it would be warm and snug. He would be disappointed but not. cool porcelain. Her love had not faded. had not perhaps even grown.
Her feet making no sound on the tiles. sped down the wide hall to the door which hid the study he had insisted on putting into her plan. a little older-looking. For long moments he held . stretched protectively out across the doorway. avoiding the calm assurance of the Virgin's eyes. And there she met the one thing her vision had not stipulated in the form of a black dog. she. but she had not realised just how rich he was. of course. He was thinner. with lines around his eyes and mouth as though he had spent a lot of his time exercising self-control. 'Simba?' Uncertainly she approached. but the grey. Nothing had been stinted. his noble head sunk apparently in sleep on his great paws. for there was something inimical about the brown eye which was fixed firmly on her. yawned and stood up. And barked twice. even to the exquisite ikon she had insisted should go in a niche in one of the rooms. twin brother to Paul's Herod. she thought painfully. for as she moved through the house she saw more and more evidences of his wealth. everything! His writer's memory—or the eyes of love? And suddenly it was imperative that she see him. 'Jane then hauled her over the astonished Simba and into his arms as if he would never let her go.as comfortably able to cope with the rain and cold of that season as it was coping with the heat of this day. just as they had the night he had left her. he now had six best-sellers to his credit. Theo was rich. He had remembered everything.green depths of his eyes caught fire as his glance swept over her. He lifted his head. He said thickly. then the door behind it was flung open and Theo stood looking at her. There was a moment when she and the dog stood looking at each other.
but she ignored it. As he swept her up in his arms and carried her across the room to a long leather sofa Jane heard a tiny warning bell ring somewhere. not even a postcard. that's better. Am I hurting you?' .' One hand touched his cheek. lonely nights recalling every detail of her features. and put me through hell in the process.' 'Me? Oh.' she told him lovingly. 'Dear God. Jane savoured the pain of his strength. that she was really convinced that he did love her. 'but if you loosened' up a bit I could—Ah. so she smiled mistily and kissed his chin.her crushed to him. with the force of it driving into her body. 'I'd just about given up hope. remember? And never a letter. you—you --' Words failed her. Just who is the graceless wretch?' He looked into her face as if he could see only that. A half-smile tugged at the hard line of his mouth as he bent his head and smothered whatever else she had been going to say in a kiss which wiped out the long separation as if it had never been. you certainly took your time. as if he had lain awake for long. He was Theo and she was his completely and she did not care. You graceless wretch. 'No. leaving me bereft. You couldn't hurt me. If he wanted to make her his then and . far sweeter than pleasure given by anyone else.' he said after a moment. Certainly he seemed determined to prove to her by his actions just what his feelings were. Beneath her fingertips Jane could feel his heart thumping like an erratic piston. all the worry and wondering over at last. choked voice. was caught and held palm against his mouth. 'You were the one who sailed away. 'I'm sorry. Then he said in a curious. it was only then.
Wincing.' As he spoke he got up from the sofa to leave her sprawled across it.' He leered unconvincingly down at her.' 'O. but she asked without diffidence. 'No. lost in a haze of desire where he was the only reality. 'I'm not made of stone. and I've waited too long to have you in my power. 'Hurry up. but for God's sake do those buttons up. Jane.there she was not going to stop him. 'Stop seducing me. but when she began to button up her blouse he grinned and cupped her breasts with a lover's hand.K. or I'll succumb to temptation and put you in a position where you'll have to marry me to save your good name!' The colour washed across her cheeks. she moved his hand and held it against her heart.' he said. Now is neither the time nor the place.' His fingers tightened against her ribs.. But after a time he held her face between his hands. make yourself decent. and kissed her mouth firmly but briefly. letting the thud of it show him without words how much she loved him. then as the banked flames began to flare again.' she murmured obediently. dropping a swift kiss in the hollow between them. hurting her.' he said harshly. she felt her own control slip silently away. his eyes mocking the fact that beneath his gaze her fingers turned into thumbs. Theo? Really?' 'Oh yes. 'Do you want to marry me. 'I can promise you I won't be a wife-beater.' he said with familiar arrogance. . for as he wooed her with hands and mouth and an urgent need which was all the stronger for having been controlled strictly for so long. 'I like you like that. 'Sorry.
Jane laughed, but she was glad when he strode across the room to stare out of the window, for. she was then able to straighten her clothes. Never before, not even in her wildest imaginings, had she realised the power desire could wield. It thrilled her that her passion was equal to his, but for both their sakes, she thought mischievously, their collective self-control had better not be put to the test too often! His touch drove her to a madness of longing which only complete union could satisfy. Of course she had come to meet him. Subconsciously she had always known that. Her love had been so strong that it must have been based on a subconscious knowledge that Theo returned it. And that was why poor Stuart waited forlornly for her answer back in London. Jane could not feel too sorry for him. He was not really in love with her, she knew, and it would be his pride which was hurt by her refusal. Not too badly hurt, she hoped; at the moment she wished the whole world to be as happy as she was herself. But there were a few things to be cleared up first. As she approached Theo's uncompromising silhouette in, the window she asked, 'Why did you leave me so brutally, Theo? You must have known I was head over heels in love with you within a few weeks of that first meeting.' .He slipped his arm across her shoulders, answering in his driest voice, 'Of course I knew, probably even before you did, my darling. You terrified the life out of me.' 'Terrified you?' She began to laugh, and then saw to her shock that he had been speaking the truth. 'Come on now, Theo! How could I terrify you? All of the advantage was yours.' 'Oh, was it? I fell in love with you, idiot, and quite frankly, for the first time in my life I wasn't in control of the situation—an unpleasant feeling, believe you me. I knew what I should do, which was to get the
hell out of there and leave you alone, but I didn't know whether I had the guts to do it and bear the torment.' 'But why?' she asked, troubled by her lack of comprehension. *Why did you have to go? We could have been married for—well at least a year. I suppose Mum and Dad would have insisted we wait awhile, as I was so young. Instead, it's as though we've wasted these last years.' 'We?' Theo asked wryly, turning to take her shoulders in a grip which was strong enough to hold her away from him. His eyes were very clear and perceptive as they took in the bewilderment which made her glance a golden turbulence. 'My darling, I wasted a couple of years, perhaps. You didn't. You went away and grew up.' 'Was that it? That I was too young, too immature?' 'Partly. Jane, you were a baby, a schoolgirl who had no idea of what was happening to her. I wanted you— God, I wanted you, and I loved you, but I wanted more from you than a girl's adolescent crush on the first personable male she'd met. Do you understand?' In his insistence, a kind of suppressed anger of impatience to have her comprehend, his fingers bit deeply into her shoulders. Jane nodded. He had been so much wiser-than she, had loved her enough to leave and take the consequences, whatever they might have been. Perhaps he had known her well enough to be almost sure that she would return to him, but he could not have been entirely certain, yet he had let her go. He must have misunderstood her tears, for he muttered an oath and pulled her against him, saying violently, 'I'm sorry, darling. I can't seem to help hurting you, but at least when we're married I'll be able to kiss you better. I did what I thought was best for you, and if it was unnecessarily brutal I'm sorry.'
'Oh no,' she muttered, sniffing inelegantly. 'Oh no, I'm just so thankful that you were so—so damned selfish! At least I probably will be thankful, when I get more used to the idea of being loved by you.' He laughed at that, tenderly, and mapped her eyes and kissed them shut, then said in her ear, 'I did give you an out. On that trip down to Auckland, when you went for your interview. If you'd seemed unhappy or undecided at the idea I would have asked you to marry me then. But you were quite determined to go ahead with it, and I'm glad now. I would always have wondered if I'd been unfair to you. Cradle-snatching has always seemed a game not worth the candle to me.' Jane nodded, remembering so well the probing questions he had asked, the way he had forced her into a corner, so that she had defended her decision to gQ to the College with more passion than she had felt. He had, of course, done the right thing, but oh, if only she had known just how close she was then to being his wife! 'Do you think you could bear to live with someone as cold and calculating as me?' he asked softly. 'Oh—Theo!' She chose the best way of all to reassure him, holding him tightly in her strong young arms as she pressed swift kisses over the deeply engraved frown lines of his forehead. 'I do love you,' she whispered against his skin. 'And even though I think you're to<> noble by far, I'll forgive you for these past years.' 'Noble?' He held her face in his hands, staring deeply into her eyes as if trying to see into her soul. 'That's another thing. You know something of my life before I met you, the kind of life I led. I don't know if Penny told you anything, but she made it quite clear to me that it was my reputation which attracted her. You're not like her, I know. Does it repel you?'
I love you quite desperately and I've forgiven you for leaving me. 'I don't want you to feel bound to me. or an exchange of vows. I don't like to think of—of how you gained your experience. I can promise --' 'No. But it all happened before you knew. the man I love. but since I met you there's been no other woman.' she interrupted swiftly.Jane bit her lip.' he murmured. Darling. darling Theo. me. . I'm so glad. When I saw you that first time looking down into the cockpit of the Toroa. I suppose. which means that those other women made you. you make me absolutely shameless. kiss me. Now. provided you don't do it any more!' He smiled at that. it doesn't repel me. 'You make things too easy for me.' 'Oh!' she exclaimed. So I can thank them. please. Theo. no promises. before his mouth crushed hers beneath it and all of her resolutions went flying at the passion his kiss unleashed. 'Oh. do you ? I am bound to you. 'You still don't believe that I love you. looking down at her with the old mockery and amusement. aware that she must convince him of her disregard for his past now before they went any further into this voyage of mutual discovery which was their life together. guilty and worried about what Shai was up to. in part. 'Oh. important though they may be. just as you are bound to me by ties far stronger than a promise. I love you.' 'Shameless is exactly the word.' She laughed softly. but there was no mirth in it. superstitiously. I don't care if you slept with a million other women before you met me.' 'No?' He straightened up. entranced. that's lovely. heart of my heart. 'No. my health found its other half.
with a big marmalade tabby sleeping in a patch of sunlight on the green vinyl floor. Come and be introduced to your house. 'I remember everything you ever said to me. the hair tumbled from its usual sleekness by his fingers.' 'How?' . Did you know I was coming back?' He grinned. 'Mmm. He shrugged. I've kept a fairly good eye on you. I could keep you here all day. the long sweep of throat blushing faintly under the possessiveness of his glance. triumphantly at his love's flushed face and crimson lips.' It was perfect. exactly as she had planned it. you've made a wonderful job of it. even down to the colour scheme in the kitchen. 'When I saw the house I knew that the nightmare was over and that you did love me.' she said quietly. 'I hope I got it right. I told the architect what I wanted and he produced this. Theo laughed softly. 'If you hadn't appeared within the next month I was going to track you down and bring you back.' he said teasingly.' But before he took her on a tour he smoothed back the flyaway tendrils of hair from her face. 'but Simba is right. green and gold and apricot.' 'Between you. 'How did you remember?' she asked wonderingly. obviously feeling more than a little jealous at being ignored for so long. swiftly kissing the tip of her nose as he did so.This time it was Simba who brought them back to reality by butting Jane's leg with his head.
and knew that she would never tire of looking at him. but she ignored it. Theo?' 'Penny?' 'Yes. before she could join him in a toast to their future together. 'You hurt her badly.' She looked up at him steadily. after I'd finished the house. 'She thought I might be an interesting feather in her cap. a flaw in the otherwise^ perfect fabric of her happiness.'Your Aunt Catherine. you know. 'And Mum?' 'Oh. accepting the glass. I asked your father for your hand about six months ago.' .' His voice was cool and quite casual. And she had not had the faintest idea of what was going on. 'Drink up. 'Did you have to make love to her?' To her complete chagrin there was a wobble in her voice. Looking into the bubbles as they burst in the clear amber liquid. He didn't pretend to misunderstand her.' One thing remained to be settled now. darling. You didn't have a hope against us all. but the glance which rested on Jane's downturned face was needle-sharp. 'How very cunning of you both.' she said. tactfully and subtly urged into the visit. You could call it a family conspiracy. 'What about Penny. and she was so spoiled that she could have made a damned nuisance of herself.' He grinned into her outraged face and touched his glass to the rim of hers.' 'Oh!' As he got champagne from the huge refrigerator and poured it into tall glasses Jane realised that she had been manoeuvred into this trip home. she asked soberly. but those kisses he had exchanged with Penny still grated.
For most of his fellow humans he had a cynical contempt which was founded on his early experience so that he would never share her outlook. Smiling wryly. But his indifference towards the greater part of humanity did not extend to her. If I'd ignored her she would have made even more blatant advances. 'That's the last ghost laid. 'Good. Too many easy conquests had convinced her that she only had to flutter her lashes and any -male would fall like a ripe plum. aware of what he was saying. Tm not a gentle person.' 'So you used her quite brutally. Nothing else mattered but you. 'I realised then that I was caught and that the situation was impossible.' he admitted. carefully giying nothing away.' 'Is that why you were so horrid?' . I didn't have the time. touched the rimw of his and then drank.'Jane. Theo. and quite frankly. I could quite easily have cut my throat —and yours. Apart from anything else I didn't want any more complications. I couldn't be bothered. 'Actually! when you appeared around the corner of the house and looked so horror-stricken.' He shrugged.' Jane nodded. she would never have taken no for an answer.' she said. There might have been a kinder way of dealing with her. I'd realised that I was in love with you and I was sweating blood trying to work out what to do. She had only to look at him to see his love written plain in his expression—or as plainly as those masked features would ever allow. keeping a good distance between them. which would have "been embarrassing for everyone.' But his expression was still watchful. was not exactly a lover of mankind. she held her glass up.
and took her purposefully in his arms. Few people could stand up to Theo. certainly not her parents. Penny. Two years had tested and proved her love. I thought I behaved with immense self-control. and she knew now that she was mature enough to give him the complete trust he demanded. Intelligent though she was. Jane knew that her older sister had not realised the full complexity of his character. but Theo. and she must learn not to think of that instrument as a rival.He looked amused.' He drained half the champagne in his glass. whose temper was uncertain at times and who had little liking for fools or the self. who could be cruel and who was then sarcastic. He was wedded to his typewriter. someone who looked like the handsome blond prince of all the fairytales but who could behave like the angel of darkness. for he had given her .' he said. 'I have every intention of doing just that as soon as I can get a licence-to marry you. dangerous man. Ian and Joy might have protested about her youth and inexperience. took hers from her and set them both side by side on the tiled bench. now she realised that he had sacrificed an almost certain chance of happiness because he had wanted her to be as sure as he was of their ultimate commitment to each other. who had wanted him. He was no knight in shining armour. for her life would be unbearable if she did not accept him just as he was. not even trying to coax you into falling in love with me when all I wanted was to drag you off into the first convenient bed and make wild and passionate love to you for ever after. she had thought his departure a betrayal. Theo had loved her enough to leave her. aware that he could perhaps be saying goodbye to her for ever. Lost in her romantic imaginings. but they would have given in. It would have been quite easy for him to have wooed and married her. Before she gave herself up to the delicious enchantment of the senses which he wove around her. 'I don't remember being horrid at all. had called him a subtle. of course. He had been right.deluded. Jane thought that she did not deserve such unselfish love.
and the next time you come back home it will be as my wife. 'Everything is fine. He gave a great shout of laughter and kissed her. let's get going. saw a kind of pain in his eyes and could not breathe for the wonder of this revelation.' 'Good.K. had plotted and planned to win her. And yet this man loved her. We'll tell your parents.' she said quietly.' Astonished by this open statement of his vulnerability. fiercely hugging him to her with all of her strength. who was open and transparent and not terribly clever. sweet. denying her any other closeness but the physical and that only for a few minutes. because there's no turning back now. 'Next to Theo that's the nicest word in the language. then said. she looked up.' she said.' .' 'Home. 'O.. On tiptoe. Jane Bowden. By showing her that he needed her he was laying himself open to pain and hurt.' 'I don't entirely agree. she kissed his cheek. whose only qualification to be his wife was that she loved him with every fibre of her being! 'Well ?' Theo asked gravely.nothing but a few kisses. 'Even our fights will be fun. and it was this final commitment which brought a sparkle of sheer delight to warm the golden amber of her eyes. If you left me I'd follow you to the ends of the earth.
indeed. and Jane knew that she was. 'Come on.' Hand in hand they walked through the soft shade and out into the glare of the sunlight. home. We've all our lives ahead of us. my darling. .When she stopped on the terrace for a moment shading her eyes before going across the grass into the shade of the pohutukawas he gave a lock of her hair a sharp tug.
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